Multnomah County Library celebrates 100 years of Summer Reading with an expected 100,000 summer readers

PORTLAND, Ore. — June 8, 2012 — Multnomah County Library's Summer Reading program celebrates its 100th birthday this year and expects to mark the occasion with 100,000 summer readers. Thanks to The Library Foundation's sustained support, Summer Reading has grown dramatically in the past decade, from 34,000 participants in 2001 to 98,000 in 2011. The program preserves students' skills over summer vacation, helping them succeed in school and in life.

More than 81,000 Multnomah County students have already signed up for the 2012 program at school. For the first time, all K-8 Gresham-Barlow students will be signed up through school. The library now partners with seven of the eight school districts in Multnomah County: Corbett, David Douglas, Centennial, Gresham-Barlow, Parkrose, Portland Public and Reynolds. By partnering at the district level, the library encourages all students, regardless of economic or family situation, to read over the summer.

By having the message come directly from schools, the library reinforces the fact that reading for pleasure over summer break is critical for success in school. 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 music, theater, crafts and more.

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 15.

Upon signup, participants (or their parents) receive a gameboard 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 gameboards. 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 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 waterpark.

"Multnomah County Library is committed to supporting students' success in school," said Director of Libraries Vailey Oehlke. "For a century, this Summer Reading program has bolstered students' learning skills and inspired a love of reading that sets them on the path to success, not only when they return to school after summer vacation, but for the rest of their lives."

The Summer Reading program is made possible by generous donations to The Library Foundation. Summer Reading 2012 is sponsored by Comcast.

About Multnomah County Library

Multnomah County Library is the oldest public library west of the Mississippi, with a history that reaches back to 1864. Today, Central Library and the other 18 neighborhood libraries that make up the library system house a collection of two million books and other library materials. As Oregon's largest public library, Multnomah County Library serves nearly one-fifth of the state's population with a wide variety of programs and services. Over 35,000 people use the library each day, either online or in person.