It's summer. School's out. "No more pencils, no more books ..."
Whoa. That refrain does not apply in Baltimore County, where the Summer Reading Club sponsored by the public library system shows kids are embracing books more than ever during their vacation. The club launched its 2012 session on June 11.
Last year, the Summer Reading Club attracted a record 45,971 young bookworms, a huge jump from the previous year's record-setting 35,479 participants. That's an extraordinary growth curve.
The trend bodes well for reading skill retention among young students. A decline in reading ability — summer reading loss — occurs when students do not crack books over the summer.
A library official said reading just four or five books over the summer can keep reading ability sharp while kids are away from the classroom.
The reading club, a program at all 18 of the county's branch libraries, is well designed to leaven the educational aspect of reading with a sense of fun. That begins with Sneaks, the mascot that is the club's face to the kids.
The club also offers rewards beyond knowledge and imagination. Participants complete a game board they are given at registration and young readers can receive toys while older readers might take home an iPod touch, iPod shuffle, a Kindle fire, a Hunger Games book bundle, gift cars and mystery prizes.
Even kids too young to read are not left out. There's a Read-to-Me Summer Reading Club for youngsters up to age 5.
All youngsters, or their parents, need to do to sign up is to visit their local library or register at http://www.bcpl.info/summerreading.
Baltimore County residents can be proud to have a library system skilled at keeping children immersed over the summer in the adventure of reading. It's tax money well spent.