The end of the school year quickly approaches, activity in the library starts to wind down and we have students turn in all their library materials, but what if we let students check books out over the summer? As a high school librarian that works in a fairly rural area, many of our students do not have access to a public library and may have few, if any books at home. This always saddened me, especially when students wanted to read over the summer.
According to Common Sense Media’s recent report on Children, Teens, And Reading “a quarter (27%) of all 13-year-olds, and one in five (19%) 17-year-olds read for fun almost every day.” This is a discouraging statistic. What can I do in our small community to increase reading? What if I let students check books out over the summer? Last year I did a “trial run” with some students allowing books to be checked out over the summer and it was a huge success, so this year I am promoting it to the entire school. Hopefully encouraging students to check books out over the summer will increase their interest in reading, especially when students have more free time over the summer and are not busy with homework, sports and other extra-curricular activities.
The concern of most school librarians is that students will lose their books or move and the books will never be returned. This is a legitimate concern and one I have learned to overcome. Even during the school year I have students move and never return their books or students that lose their books, so I feel that encouraging and promoting reading over the summer isn’t going to change that. In a high school it’s a little easier to hold students responsible for book loses especially if they do not move. All students are required to return all books or pay for lost books by the end of their senior year to receive their cap and gown. Unfortunately if they move, there is no way for me to recover those items. Fortunately I have an administration that supports the library with a budget that can handle some book loses. I love to see the excited looks on their faces when they find out they can check books out for the summer!
What do you think? Do you allow books to be checked out over the summer?