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Outcomes-Based Summer Reading: Results
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Results from the California Summer Reading Outcomes Initiative

California's summer reading programs create communities of readers and library users

Summer learning loss can put children who lack access to summer learning programs nearly three grades behind their peers in reading by the end of fifth grade.1 Public library summer reading programs help prevent summer learning loss. They:

  • encourage free voluntary reading
  • motivate students to set and meet reading goals
  • help adults model good reading habits for children
  • provide free library events that extend the reading experience

Over 685,000 Californians signed up for public library summer reading programs and over 1.1 million attended summer reading events in 2013. Summer readers tell us that:2

  • They enjoy the summer reading program
    90% of children | 82% of teens | 80% of adults | 99% of families
  • They share books and talk about the books they read
    61% of children | 66% of teens | 78% of adults | 97% of families
  • They plan to come back to the library after the summer
    86% of children | 83% of teens | 85% of adults | 98% of families
  • They know that the library is a place where they can find things to read
    79% of children | 78% of teens | 79% of adults | 94% of families

Children who read, succeed. And California's summer readers and library users return to school ready to learn!

California's summer reading programs reach out to underserved communities

In 2013, over 4,000 previously-underserved children, teens, and adults took part in summer reading as a result of targeted outreach by librarians in nine California library jurisdictions.

In all, since 2010 over 14,000 underserved community members have taken part in summer reading as a result of targeted outreach by librarians participating in the California Summer Reading Outcomes Initiative. They include children and teens in a transitional housing facility, teens in a group home, Head Start parents, kids from targeted preschools, elementary schools, community centers, and housing projects, families in the WIC Program (low income women, infants, and children who are nutritionally at risk), and low-income children and teens enrolled in summer enrichment programs through the Summer Matters Initiative.

These children, teens, and adults belonged to communities of readers and library users during the summer thanks to the outreach efforts of California librarians. And the effects of libraries' outreach and related community partnerships continue after the summer:

  • Sacramento Public Library took the summer reading program to a youth detention facility one year. Over 60 teens participated and 24 finished the program. All participants received books chosen with their interests and reading levels in mind. The library is now beginning to provide donated books for the facility’s library.
  • A Los Angeles Public Library staff member has reported: “The success to me was seeing so many new faces in the library. I continue to see some of them even after the close of the program, saying hello and of course checking out books.”
  • In Santa Cruz, in 2011, library staff reached out to a literacy program in a low-income housing area, and the site was subsequently added as a bookmobile stop.

Participating Libraries

Twenty one California library jurisdictions participated in the California Summer Reading Outcomes Initiative in 2013:

  • Anaheim Public Library
  • Arcadia Public Library
  • Daly City Public Library
  • Glendora Public Library
  • Huntington Beach Public Library
  • Long Beach Public Library
  • Los Angeles Public Library
  • Oakland Public Library
  • Ontario City Library
  • Orange County Public Libraries
  • Orland Free Library
  • Palo Alto City Library
  • Sacramento Public Library
  • Santa Barbara Public Library
  • San Francisco Public Library
  • San Luis Obispo County Library
  • San Mateo County Library
  • Santa Maria Public Library
  • Whittier Public Library
  • Willows Public Library
  • Yolo County Library

2. Results are based on a survey of 9,996 children, teens, and adults in 15 California library jurisdictions during summer 2013.