The summer slide isn’t a piece of playground equipment or even a toy at the local town pool.
While it sounds like something fun, it’s anything but that. Rather, the summer slide is something that parents need to fight against during these warm months.
The summer slide is the well-documented decrease in reading ability that occurs when kids don’t engage in learning over the summer. When children take a break from reading, their abilities recede and as that loss compounds over the years, some kids are left years behind their actual grade level.
To combat the summer slide, one community is looking to a bright yellow bicycle for answers. The city of Longmont, Colorado is launching a book-bicycle-centered outreach effort to try to reach kids whose parents don’t bring them to the library. Friends of the Longmont Library funded the $6,000 BookCycle that features a bubble machine and handle-mounted pinwheels, as well as a cargo hold for dozens of books and a Wi-Fi station that anyone can use.
Library employees will pedal the BookCycle to public events this summer, where they will host story times; they’ll also have the ability to make library cards on the spot. “We’re hoping the mobility will allow us to reach underserved areas and bring the books straight to them,” Elektra Greer, head of Longmont Library’s children and teens department, told Whitney Bryen of the Longmont Times-Call.
People in this Rocky Mountain community can expect to find the BookCycle at the farmer’s market, free public concerts, the First Friday Art Walk on Main Street, and many other events.
Now the librarians just need to learn to steer it — which can be difficult when the BookCycle is loaded up with books. So in preparation for pedaling season, the staff is taking lessons from Longmont Bicycles.
With any luck, they will return to the library from each of their outings with an empty BookCycle, leaving behind many kids with their noses buried in books.