Redefining Community Roles: Omaha Public Library Is a Model for Summer Learning

Kids who aren’t involved in summer learning activities suffer the greatest learning losses in math and reading. Underprivileged students who have less learning resources available to them during the school year and the summer months are put at an increased disadvantage, setting them back from their more affluent peers and increasing the achievement gap. Low-income parents who aren’t involved often suffer in exposure, awareness, and sometimes their own opportunity to prepare for the GED, community college, or better employment.

Due to the tightness of teacher and school resources, no matter how much student success is a priority, the school systems can’t shoulder all the responsibility of improving learning circumstances for their students. But that doesn’t suggest students have no options. Many communities and foundations are stepping forward to support students with free or affordable supplementary programs. As more graduates enter the workforce underprepared for the working world, advocates for student achievement, engagement, and success have moved beyond school walls and infiltrated communities, businesses, and families that rely on successful citizens who propel our society forward.

LifeBound is launching a summer reading program with the Omaha Public Library this summer to get books in the hands of  1,000 students who otherwise will approach a summer without learning resources that keep their brains engaged and ready to start the next school year strong. The role of the public library is being redefined across the country, with some providing computer skills, programs for the homeless, basic supplies for impoverished families, and more. As a place of refuge for many, libraries are answering the call to help educate our communities. One of our trainers will be working with library staff to facilitate enrichment classes for students, sessions for parents, and Friday night “Lock In” events for eighty targeted at-risk youth who will receive dinner and exposure to an educational event. This is just one of many examples LifeBound is involved with this summer to bring reading enrichment to students who would otherwise go without.

LifeBound’s books do more than develop reading skills; they help students develop the social and emotional skills they need to be successful in school, career, and life. As students learn more about themselves, they learn to embrace rigor and challenge and become better students. The manager of Whole Child Programs at ASCD says, “you will find an 11 percent increase” in students’ academic achievement with the implementation of a social and emotional learning component.1 Based on that 11 percent increase, we can build a strong foundation for students making the transition to middle school, high school, and college. Our hope is that those students can become the peer mentors and role models for younger students in their housing projects or neighborhoods, showing by example the power of summer reading.


1“Raising Stellar Students About More Than Getting Top Grades,” by Julie Rasicot. 11 May 2012. Bethesda Magazine. Accessed on 15 May 2012.

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