Grandview Heights Public Library: Reading club helps students avoid 'summer slide'

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
Rachel Rausch, youth-services librarian for the Grandview Heights Public Library, shows a display of prize coupons children could earn as part of the Summer Reading Club.  Rewards include a free ice cream cone from Dairy Queen, chocolate from Pure Imagination Chocolatier and a doughnut from DK Diner. The Grandview Heights Public Library's Summer Reading Club runs from June 1 to July 31.

The Grandview Heights Public Library's 2021 Summer Reading Club again will be a virtual experience.

Unlike the 2020 program, however, youngsters will be able to participate in some in-person outdoor activities.

"Last year, we had to do the reading club as an all-virtual program because we were right in the early months of the COVID pandemic," youth-services librarian Rachel Rausch said. "We're so excited about being able to do some limited in-person activities because we've missed seeing everyone so much."

The in-person activities will not be open to infants, toddlers and preschool-age children, Rausch said.

"Storytime activities and the Baby Book program for that age group still will be offered virtually because at that young age, children aren't able to understand and follow social-distancing (guidelines)," she said.

Students in grades K-4 are invited to participate in a garden club at Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School, 1240 Oakland Ave.

Participating youths will learn about a variety of gardening topics at the school's garden, Rausch said. 

The program, held in partnership with Grandview Heights Schools, the Grandview Heights Parks & Recreation Department and Ohio State University Extension, also will include walking trips to the Wallace Community Gardens, 1581 Goodale Blvd.

"It's a way for youngsters to get outdoors and spend some time in the sunshine after having to spend so much time inside over the last year," Rausch said.

Other activities will include Thursday Trivia at Wyman Woods, 1515 Goodale Blvd., at 7 p.m. June 3, July 1 and Aug. 5; Art at the Park with local artist Bryan Moss at 7 p.m. June 10 and July 22; and a family yoga program for all ages at 4 p.m. June 16 and July 14.

More information about the programs and registration is available at ghpl.org/events.

The summer reading program itself began June 1 and will run through July 31.

Youths could earn prizes by accumulating points by logging their reading, completing weekly challenges and Bingo board and attending virtual programs.

For every 100 points they earn, participants receive a raffle ticket for grand-prize drawings.

The Summer Reading Club is a fun way to encourage students to keep reading during the summer months, Rausch said.

Just because they are out of school doesn't mean students don't need to read, she said.

"The 'summer slide' is very real," Rausch said.

The research shows that students can regress over the summer if they don't stay engaged in reading and learning, Grandview Heights Schools chief academic officer Jamie Lusher said.

"They can go back two or three months worth from where they were in the spring, and it can take us until October or November to get them back to speed," she said. "You do that two or three years in a roll, and you're talking about an equivalent of a loss of a full year of learning that has to be recaptured. And that's in a normal year."

It doesn't include the challenges of the pandemic, which included periods of remote and hybrid learning models, she said.

The data in Grandview shows that because the district opted for a hybrid model that had students attending school in person for a portion of each day and the return of all-in school in March, students have not sustained much academic loss over the pandemic period, Lusher said.

Reading 200 pages per week can increase students' achievement and their cognitive growth, she said.

The district again has provided students and families with resources, information and links to and about activities to help spur learning during the summer months, Lusher said.

"We don't want to make it an arduous thing for students," she said.

The idea is to provide fun ways for students to learn, Lusher said.

"We like to say they're learning in spite of themselves," she said.

A new offering for 2021 is a set of Summer Ignite courses that are free for students, Lusher said.

"We have courses relating to math, fitness, literature and books that are meant to be a fun way for students to explore topics that interest them," she said.

As in 2020, the district has provided students and families a "Choose Your Own Adventure" webpage at ghschools.org/apps/pages/summer2021 that offers links to a variety of online resources and activities relating to reading, writing, math, humanities and arts.

Separate websites are offered for students in grades K-5 and 6-12, with activities further organized for grade 6-8 and 9-12 age groups on the website for older students.

For younger grade levels, the website offers a guideline families can use during the summer to plan a suggested amount of time students should spend two or three days a week engaged in each subject area, Lusher said.

"You want to keep the learning fun and keep it educational," she said.

Parents can turn fun activities at home or play into learning experiences, Lusher said.

"If you're cooking something in the kitchen with your child, take a little time to talk about the different measurements you're using," she said.

The district also has compiled a list of camps and other community activities that are available for students over the summer and access to digital resources and activities – also on the webpage.

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