ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — School is almost out for the summer, but that does not mean that learning has to stop.
The so-called “summer slide” is common in kids, but there are many local resources available to keep students’ brains sharp over summer break.
From their “Summer Reading Challenge” to the “Mobile Library,” the Rockford Public Library (RPL) is continuing to find ways to keep kids engaged.
“Sometimes during the school year, it’s hard for them to explore what really interests them because they’re reading for the school. So in the summer, it’s the best time to read the things that you find interesting and that you want to explore a little more, and that goes for grown ups, too, of course,” said Kathi Kresol, manager of RPL Montague branch and ‘Mobile Library.’ “But, it really helps the kids, too, to learn more about what they’re interested in, to find their own voice.”
“Find Your Voice” is the theme of this year’s RPL “Summer Reading Challenge.”
“We’re focused primarily on encouraging kids and adults to read, write, perform, dance, figure out a way that they can focus on their individuality and find their own voice,” said Morgan Yordy, librarian at RPL East Branch.
The program uses positive reinforcement to encourage reading when school is not in session.
“It’s 500 minutes a month, which sounds like a lot for summer, but when you break it down, it’s about 15 minutes a day, and I spend more time on TikTok than that,” Yordy said.
Like an ice cream truck, the “RPL Mobile Library” will be visiting neighborhoods this summer. It has free books, crafts, games and more.
“It makes it accessible so the kids can come, the parents and the kids can come,” Kresol said. “It really makes the library a special place to visit, and since sometimes they have trouble getting there, we bring it to them.”
One way to keep kids engaged is by pairing the book with an activity to cement the idea and make the story come alive.
“It opens up so many experiences, and that’s how kids learn,” Kresol said. “We partnered with Anderson Gardens to use their space, but also then they get a free ticket to go into the Gardens for the rest of the day, and all they have to do is show up and come to our story time. It is magic.”
There will be a “Summer Reading Challenge” kickoff party at the Riverfront Museum Park, 711 N. Main St., on June 3.
A full schedule of events and “Mobile Library” stops can be found on RPL’s website.