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Guest Column: Library offers summer reading program

Barbara A.B. Gubbin, director of the Jacksonville Public Library

(Published in the Florida Times-Union Tuesday, June 17, 2014)

Every Jacksonville resident should be concerned after reading the headline May 23:

“FCAT: 1 in 5 fail to make grade; 22% of third-graders in Duval schools below test reading standard.”

Poor reading skills affect everyone, regardless of whether you have children in school.

As the article pointed out, children who struggle with reading in third grade have an incredibly difficult time in later grades.

They grow up to be teenagers who often do not graduate from high school.

They find it difficult to get and keep a job.

They are more likely to commit crimes and be dependent on welfare.

And they don’t contribute to our economy as they could have.

For more than 100 years, Jacksonville libraries have been the place where children read a book for the first time.

Libraries are an important partner for parents and teachers in education and literacy, especially in the summer when school is out.

The library is a vital bridge after the school day ends and between school years.

And it helps prevent “summer slide” — the critical loss of educational skills experienced during the break.

Experts say reading just four to five books during the summer can prevent a decline in a child’s reading scores in the fall.

Results of a recent university study indicate that students who participate in public library summer reading programs typically score higher than non-participants on reading achievement tests.

They also return to school more ready to learn.

And they improve their reading achievement and skills.

The Jacksonville Public Library is once again offering a free Summer Reading Program, packed with more than 400 opportunities for children to keep reading this summer — and to have fun while they are at it.

Children and teens who meet their reading goals and log their books can earn a free book and fun prizes.

The Summer Reading activities guide and reading lists are available at any Jacksonville Public Library or online at

Sign up begins June 1 online or at any branch library.

Activities vary by branch location. Call 630-2665 for information.

In addition, with this year’s Summer Reading Program, the Jacksonville Public Library Foundation is implementing a pilot program at the Brown Eastside and Brentwood Branch libraries that will provide data.

It will measure how a connection to the library’s summer reading programs can reverse the expected trend of summer reading loss for low-income children and improve reading levels.

Make sure your child or grandchild doesn’t lose reading skills this summer.

Sign them up for the library’s Summer Reading Program.

Jacksonville Public Library