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Perspective | Programs providing NC children with books

There is a special connection between summer and children’s literature. I am keenly aware of that, as an English professor with an expertise in children’s literature.

Many books for young readers are set during the summer months. In fact, the word “summer” figures in the titles of some of these books. A few examples include Rita Williams-Garcia’s “One Crazy Summer,” Bette Greene’s “Summer of My German Soldier,” and Maureen Daly’s “Seventeenth Summer.” 

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For many children and teenagers, summer is when they can read whatever books they want to read without having to worry about taking reading comprehension tests or writing book reports.

Unfortunately, some North Carolina children grow up in homes without age-appropriate books that they can read at their leisure. Some children spend the entire summer without reading a single book, and their literacy skills suffer as a result. Teachers often call this problem the “summer slide.”

This year, the problem of summer slide may be worse than usual because many children may have already fallen behind in their reading skills as a result of the schooling disruptions caused by the pandemic.  

It would be easy to throw up one’s hands and hope for the best as children swoop down the summer slide and lose their literacy skills along the way. However, I am pleased to report that several North Carolina literacy programs are determined not to let this happen.

One way to help counter summer slide is to provide children with books they can read over the summer. A number of literacy programs in our state have launched campaigns to provide children with free books, including Promising Pages in Charlotte, Book

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