Assistant Director Ryan Johnson wrote the most recent column for the O’Fallon Weekly and took the opportunity to reflect on the success as well as the value of the Library’s Summer Reading Program.
“During June and July, we created just over 400 new library cards. That number doesn’t include renewals; those are all new families joining our library community. Many are new residents who recently moved to town. Some are longtime O’Falloners who, for whatever reason, just now discovered the library. It is no doubt that our Summer Reading Programs brought in a good chunk of those new families. Afterall, we had nearly 1,300 individuals participate in Summer Reading this year, including 70 teens (imagine getting that many teens to do anything over the summer)!” Ryan said.
In addition, The number of people entering the building for those two months was just shy of 30,000, Ryan said.
The point is not just that the Library was bustling with activity, Ryan said, it is that the Library is making a difference. According to the US Department of Education, the more students willingly read for fun, the higher they score on reading tests. Ryan added that other research shows that when children read for pleasure, they acquire (almost by accident) the language skills we are so concerned with teaching them.
“This is why I am so encouraged by how busy we were these last two months,” Ryan said. Those new families used the library, attended story times, and nearly 900 kids took part in Summer Reading. If a love for reading was sparked in even a small percentage of those children, Ryan said, then we did part to set those kids up success in school.
This is important to our society because in as recently as 2013, 66% of all US 4th graders scored below proficient on the National Assessment of Education Progress reading test. More recently, and looking only at Illinois, 65% of 4th graders scored below proficient in reading.
“So I challenge you,” Ryan said. “The next time you hear someone ask, ‘Do we really even need libraries anymore?’ Please answer, ‘Yes!'” Our function involves more than loaning books or providing access to the internet. “We are here to foster learning, spark imaginations, and provide access to all comers,” Ryan said. “By doing so, we hope to make a difference on the individual, family, and community level.”
Books to spark joy and a love of reading:
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
Fudge-a-mania by Judy Blume
The Lightning Thief a Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan
Remember, you can catch “Library News & Notes” each Wednesday in the O’Fallon Weekly on newsstands, online, and also in the magazine room here at the O’Fallon Public Library.