The San José Public Library’s Summer Learning initiative provides a series of programs and incentives that encourage active and engaged learning and promotes reading over the summer months. The eight-week program, generally from June to July, includes “pre-readers” (age 0-5) aiming to read 8 books over the course of the program, while young readers (ages 5-12), teens (age 12-17), and adults (ages 18 and older) complete a total of 8 hours of reading. All participants under 18 years old can receive 2 free books at any Express Pickup location, and all participants who complete the Summer Learning program have a chance to win a grand prize.
In addition to reading programs, SJPL Summer Learning offers a Graphic Novel Making Contest, coding camps, additional STEAM programming, summer meal programs, and anti-racist resources.
The Library believes that reading is learning, especially for youth. Studies consistently show that summer learning, and in particular reading, can help prevent the “summer slide” effect — a loss of up to two months of academic progress. Summer learning loss accounts for 2/3 of the 9th grade achievement gap, and this loss is cumulative, deepening each summer. Students from low-income households are far more likely to experience a significant loss of learning over the summer, and with 8.4% of San José residents living at or below the poverty line and 37% of Santa Clara County’s 3rd graders currently reading below grade level, access to books and educational programming is key for these students’ learning retention. SJPL’s Summer Learning programs are designed to provide this access.
Summer Learning programs served a total of 5,750 students of all ages in 2020, despite the unprecedented challenge of pivoting all programs to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Library branches open for Express Pickup only. Nearly 92% of participants who responded to a survey reported reading for an average of 20 minutes a day during the summer.
The Summer 2020 Graphic Novel Making Contest drew 173 submissions and held 38 programs with 907 attendees — with 196 households participating in the August closing ceremony on Zoom.