Reading program keeping children off the summer slide Published July 3, 2013 By Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Jumping, running around and loud noises may seem more fit for a park or playground, but instead, children are packing into another venue. The base library is hosting its free annual summer reading program to get children interested in reading by providing a fun, yet educational atmosphere. "[Reading] helps me learn," said the 6-year-old daughter of Gunnery Sgt. Bryson Jones, 2d Marine Regimental Combat Team combat camera chief. "I like to read a lot of books; long books, short books, medium books. I think I've been reading books since I was three." The five-weeklong series, running until July 24, is designed to promote reading comprehension and retention during the summer months when children are out of school. The theme of this year's program, "Have Book - Will Travel," highlights the positive aspects of traveling and also traveling safety. "It's very important [because] some kids lose reading skills over the summer, so we like to have them here reading all summer long," said Kimberly Webb, 4th Force Support Squadron library director and program manager. "It's not just that we want them in here during the summer, but it's really an academic problem that we're trying to help with." According to research studies from the University of Tennessee, children who read during the break gain approximately one month of reading proficiency, whereas children who do not lose up to three months. Over a child's time span in school, this deficiency can equate to years of reading development loss. "The studies show that children lose a lot of their reading skills and academic skills during the summer," Webb said. "And so, we as librarians want to do more to keep them reading during the summer. We're really concerned about the academics of the children." To help prevent this "summer slide," librarians are encouraging children to read by providing incentives to keep them motivated. The library has received donations to help supply books and reading logs to all participants, as well as prizes to offer to top performers in the program. At the end of the program, the reading logs, which record children's reading hours, will be turned in and submitted to Air Force officials for eligibility for more rewards. In addition to incentives, the program also provides an opportunity for parents to get involved with their children by engaging them in reading. "The program is a fun atmosphere for the children and gets them involved in reading," said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Sanderson, 4th Civil Engineer Squadron NCO in charge of fire prevention and father of two children enrolled in the program. "I enjoy reading so I hope [my children] grow up enjoying reading as well." More than 300 participants are registered in the program, but the librarians would like to see that number grow before their final celebration. "We welcome anyone to come register, it's free," Webb said. "We just want everybody to keep up reading during the summer." For more information about the summer reading program or other programs offered by the library, contact staff members at (919) 722-5825. Summer reading program schedule: Ages 0-6: Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Ages 7-12: Wednesdays at 1 p.m. Teens: Thursdays at 6 p.m.