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Park City Library Summer Slide Event Highlights Importance Of Summer Reading

Slip and slides, water balloons and popsicles fill kids’ summer days. But the Park City Library wants to encourage kids—and their parents—to keep up with reading and other school subjects during the summer with the Library’s “Summer Slide” event. 

Kids lined up behind two slip and slides, sliding down the hill at Library Field Saturday, while those who wanted to stay dry sat with their parents and read books in the sunshine. Park City Library Youth Services Librarian Katrina Kmak says during the summer, kids can experience what’s called summer slide, which sounds like fun if it’s on the playground, but not if it’s in the classroom.

“It's the concept if you don't use it you lose it," Kmak said. "There's been statistics and many studies that have shown that children will lose what they've learned in the past year, and then, of course, the teachers will get frustrated in the fall because they have to go back and re-teach things that they should have, in theory, kept in their brains since the year before.”

Summer slide affects some kids more than others—kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds might not have as much access to summer programs, while young kids who are just learning to read and students with learning disabilities also struggle to retain skills learned during the school year. Along with reading, kids also lose math skills over the summer, if they’re not practicing.

Mackenzie is 10 years old and says she feels prepared for school in the fall. Her mom, Maureen, says Mackenzie stays engaged through summer programs.

"She reads a lot; she does math, and some of her camps are educational camps," Maureen said. "I mean, fun, but educational, too, so she's ready for next year."

Mackenzie says she likes all types of books, but she has her favorites.

"The Harry Potter books and Diary of a Wimpy Kid," Mackenzie said.

Steve Ripley brought his kids, eight-year-old John and six-year-old Isaac, to the Summer Slide event. Ripley says John and Isaac read all the time at home and at daycare, but they need to work more on math.

“I just realized when I was reading up on this this morning, I've got some math books that I picked up, but I need to do a little more in-depth stuff with them," Ripley said. "I did throw out a kind of a math problem for John this morning, and he was asking me how old I was, when I was born, this and that. He was, like, 'that's too difficult,' but I know he can do it. I mean, I gave him a little bit, and he figured it out, pretty much.”

Kmak says there are plenty of ways for parents to engage kids in learning during the summer, such as connecting math to everyday tasks; using screen time for educational purposes; and reading anything and everything.

“Parents worry that the content that their children might be reading might not be acceptable or help their brain," Kmak said. "But any reading is good reading.”

The Park City Library is hosting another summer slide event on August 10 at 1 p.m.

Emily Means hadn’t intended to be a journalist, but after two years of studying chemistry at the University of Utah, she found her fit in the school’s communication program. Diving headfirst into student media opportunities, Means worked as a host, producer and programming director for K-UTE Radio as well as a news writer and copy editor at The Daily Utah Chronicle.