Now that finals are over and younger students are on their final week of school, students of all grade levels are excitedly awaiting their summer full of fun activities. When looking for things to do this summer, don’t forget to check out your local public library. Many feature fun options for any student and these activities are more than just a while of fun, some are actually extremely beneficial.


The Ely public library has events that are just that, fun and beneficial.


Perhaps their most popular post-school year activity, their Reading Support. This group, starting June 11th, takes place Monday through Friday until August 3rd at one in the afternoon. The reading support helps students in kindergarten through sixth grade continue to farther or improve their reading skill.


In fact, the New York State Education Department finds that reading over the summer helps “advance literary and academic performance”. They also say “the average student loses up to one month of instruction over the summer”. Programs like Ely’s Reading Support promote the continuation of learning rather than the slight loss found in two-thirds of students.


And the students don’t work directly with paid library staff. Volunteers, typically in middle or high school, are available every day to work with kids signed up for reading support. This allows for younger kids to connect and feel more comfortable working with other students, who are there because they want to see them succeed.


The readers usually don’t work with the same volunteer twice. There is, however, an exception to this on days where there are fewer volunteers. The benefits from this group go beyond reading, as it also helps young students continue to deepen and develop their social skills.


Role of the readers


To be apart of this group, students must be registered, which can be done through the Ely library. Readers may be registered to come one or two days a week depending on their schedule and preference.


Every day when readers arrive, they must sign in by talking to Sarah (or any staff member by the door) and receiving a name tag. They will then be placed with a volunteer, who will help them pick out some books they are interested in from bins labeled with numbers of different reading levels.


Some readers prefer to pick from a level they are comfortable with, while others may lean towards more of a challenge, by grabbing a book slightly above their reading level. As a volunteer of this program for the last two years, I noticed that by the end of July, almost all students ended up picking books from at least one or two levels above their original reading level.


Students will then pick a place somewhere in the library that they feel comfortable at and will read and talk through their book choices with a volunteer for 30 minutes. After the 30 minutes, readers will switch volunteers and continue reading where they left off, or pick some new books.


At the end of the hour, readers are free to leave and enjoy the rest of their day however they would like.


Role of the volunteers


Volunteers must be accounted for. Each volunteer will be scheduled to come in on certain days of the week that best work for them. When the hour starts, volunteers must sign in by getting their name tags from the front of the library.


When they are assigned to their first reader, they may want to help their reader pick out some books to read. This can ensure that readers are reading something that is of their interest but also not too easy or too hard for them to read. The goal of reading support is to help students grow.


Volunteers will talk with readers about their book, as well as just getting to know the person they are working with.


As the readers begin their books, volunteers should help students figure out different skills that may help make reading easier or help figure out what words are/mean. For example, a reader struggling with a word may need help sounding it out. By helping them to sound it out, they will begin to recognize the way certain letter combinations sound. Encouraging the reader may be the most important of this whole group. Even if they may be struggling, supporting them allows them to continue to try no matter how much they may not want to.


For more information, feel free to call the Ely library at 319-848-7616.


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