The Brooklyn Public Library kicked off the summer with a reading festival with a superhero theme on Thursday to help local kids get excited about reading over the summer.
Aimed at targeting the "summer slide" — during which children can lose up to a month of instruction — Brooklyn Library’s summer reading program helps encourage reading through book lists by age, and allows children, teens and adult to compete for a custom-made set of books curated by a librarian.
Last year, 138,000 Brooklyn kids enrolled in the program, and the library expects even more to participate this year.
“We’re all concerned about the summer slide, and I thought this might be a fun way of keeping up with reading and coming to the library,” said Shola Thompson, adding her 6-year-old son “reads very, very well.”
The superhero theme seemed to hit the right chord. Duke Davis, 8, loves anything and everything Marvel and comics, said his mother, Jaime Davis.
“He goes to P.S. 9 and we live right across the street. Last year, we did reading on our own. My friend recommended the program, the kids did great and the library gave books, so I wanted to join this year,” Davis said.
Andrea Vaughn Johnson, who coordinates school age services and youth and family services at the Brooklyn Public Library, said parents should know as long as their kids are reading, they are learning.
“Let kids choose their own books, even if the titles make you cringe,” Vaughn Johnson said. “When children have access to books, and they have the freedom to choose what they want to read, that’s what influences reading ability and reading enjoyment.”
Last year, the library hired more youth librarians with $2.8 million in city funding that is not included in the upcoming 2016 fiscal budget.
“We’re not closing libraries,” Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda Johnson said. “The problem is really if we can be as open as many hours, we’d like to be open at least six days a week in every location,” adding that the system needs more money from the city to do so.
City libraries, which received $323 million in funding in 2015, took a $10 million hit in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2016 budget. The budget, however, includes the largest-ever capital infrastructure pledge of $300 million, according to the Daily News. A finalized budget is expected this month.
The summer reading program is free for families to enroll, and more information is available at https://www.summerreading.org.