More than 73,000 Multnomah County students kick off 99th annual Summer Reading

PORTLAND, Ore. — June 14, 2011 — Multnomah County Library’s 99th annual Summer Reading program begins June 17. The library has worked directly with Multnomah County school districts again this year to sign up more students than ever for the program, which is designed to preserve critical learning skills the students have developed during the school year. More than 73,000 K–11 students from Portland Public, David Douglas, Centennial, Parkrose and Reynolds school districts, as well as many private schools, have signed up.

Studies show that over the summer, students lose about two months of reading comprehension skills. Summer Reading helps prevent that loss by giving kids an incentive to read. It brings them into the library to select books and prizes and to take part in performances, crafts and other activities. The program is open to kids of all ages, from birth to high school students entering grade 12. Anyone who has not signed up through school may do so at any neighborhood library beginning June 17.

Upon sign-up, participants (or their parents) receive a game board customized for their age group: birth–preschool (also available in Spanish), grades K–6 or grades 7–12. Participants then engage in any number of literacy-building activities and track their progress on their game boards. Activities include reading, being read to, listening to audiobooks, reading aloud to others, writing a book review, drawing a picture about a book, and attending an event at the library.

As they complete levels on their gameboards, participants earn books, free passes, restaurant coupons, fines removed from their library cards, and other prizes. Everyone who signs up for Summer Reading is eligible for one free ticket each to a Portland Timbers and a Trail Blazers game (with purchase of adult ticket). Everyone who completes the game receives a Summer Reading T-shirt and is entered to win the grand prize drawing of a family vacation for four to Great Wolf Lodge water park.

The program, one parent said last year, “has transformed my 7-year-old-son. He started the summer as a capable but reluctant reader, but working towards small prizes motivated him so much that he has immersed himself in books. He is truly a voracious reader now and will begin school in the fall with improved skills and confidence.”

“When we foster a love of reading, we empower children to succeed in the classroom and in life,” said Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke. “The library’s Summer Reading program supports students, parents and educators, strengthening our community through literacy.”

Summer Reading is made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation and reach through private support.

Summer Reading runs through Aug. 31.