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Shelf Talk: Summer Reading Part 1

I love Spring in Mississippi County.

Spring has really outdone itself this year: tulip trees, dogwoods, and azaleas pop bright color on every corner. Storefronts and homes freshen their appearance, with flowers lining beds and decorating windowsills. Nature is signaling its readiness for a fresh start, a new beginning after the winter that was 2020. And Mississippi County is responding. April and May have brought a slew of activity: baseball games, community gatherings, proms, and graduations are adding their own colors to our lives. The hybrid school year is coming to a close, and we’re looking forward to summer.

I REALLY love Summer in Mississippi County!

At the Mississippi County Library System (MCLS), the end of school means the beginning of Summer Reading. Library Summer Reading programs are vital to help bridge an educational gap between school years, to keep kids engaged, reading, and learning during a time when many students actually lose hard-gained knowledge from the previous school year. Studies show that a "summer slide" is real: students' reading levels tend to drop 1-2 grade levels over summer break.

According to composite scores on 3rd grade standardized tests, nearly 65% of students in Mississippi County already read below grade level. For them, summer slide is detrimental. Many of the students who read on the lowest levels also live in poverty (38% of families in Mississippi County), and thus do not have access to summer camps and continuing education resources. These families rely on the library for summer activities and access to reading material and information services. The library's Summer Reading program offers educational programming, a wide selection of reading material, staff ready to model and encourage reading, and an incentive structure in place to squeeze learning out of even the most reluctant reader.

At MCLS, we want to encourage reading during the summer, but we also want to make Summer Reading FUN! This year, our theme is Tails and Tales. We’ll be reading stories about animals and the people who love them, and hosting all sorts of fun activities to challenge kids’ minds, encourage their creativity, and get their bodies moving!

We’ll have a new mission for every weekday, plus a weekly Take-and-Make kit with all the supplies they’ll need to complete that week’s projects! Look for fun crafts, preschool storytime, virtual escape rooms, literacy games, and more! Kids can join a Zoom meeting every Tuesday at 7 pm for a Talewise adventure, plus visits from local presenters. Older kids can join the MCLS Discord (an online space for voice and text chat) for a weekly book club and gaming time.

Summer Reading is not just for kids! This summer, we have a program for adults, too. Join us in an adventure through Kim Michelle Richardson’s “The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.” We’ll have recipes inspired by the book, an interview with the author, book reflection activities, a virtual fieldtrip to Troublesome Creek, and more. Check out a copy from your local library and get started now!

Tails and Tales registration opens May 14th, but you can preregister now! Signup at We’ll send you a reminder as soon as it’s time to get started.

It’s the season to start new things! Summer Reading isn’t all that MCLS has in store for the next few months. Keep watching this column for more library happenings. If you have any ideas for ways to continue to improve the services we provide to Mississippi County, reach out! As always, feel free to contact me at anytime with questions or suggestions.

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