Free opportunities for summer learning | Darcy Brixey

I hated summers in eastern Washington where I grew up. I’d find respite in the cool basement of my parent’s house with a glass of lemonade and a stack of books. Some mornings, I’d leave the house for babysitting gigs, but most of the time, my adventures were confined within the pages of mystery and horror novels.

On the rare occasions I’d venture outside, it was to attempt a tan in the backyard. Accompanying me on my beach towel was a walkman, a stack of cassettes from '80s boy bands, a bottle of Hawaiian Tropic and a novel. I still think about summer reading when I get a coconut infused whiff of sunscreen.

By late afternoon, I’d have finished my book and would wander into the kitchen with an empty stomach and a sunburn. I’d put together strange ingredients for snacks or experiments just to see what fizzled and bubbled, or what tasted good. It was fun stirring up ingredients in kitchen science experiments. It was all about learning, I just didn’t know that.

The library system recognizes that kids who continue to learn, read and experiment throughout summer break are better prepared for the next school year. What was once considered the summer reading program has expanded into a Summer Learning Program. Reading is still a prime component, but the library is encouraging kids to go a step further and try out some science experiments. Apologies in advance for the kitchen messes.

The summer themes this year cover learning and science: Fizz Boom Read for children and Spark a Reaction for teens. Starting June 1, kids can start marking their reading goals of 500 minutes and the opportunity to complete an activity for different badges with STREAM topics (science, technology, reading, engineering, art or math). Soon a full list of programs for children and teens will appear on the KCLS website. Check www.kcls.org/kids/summer or www.kcls.org/teens/summer for more information.

Reading is still strongly encouraged this summer, but we hope families will enjoy the science programs the libraries are offering. Whether your kids are reading at the beach, or downloading ebooks from home, enjoy. It’s a quick two month vacation, and if they’re having fun they may not even notice they are learning. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.


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