Senator Farley Says Keep Kids Reading This Summer

Hugh T. Farley

June 28, 2005

Just because the school year is over, it doesn't mean it's time to stop learning. Reading is a wonderful adventure you go on every time you open a book. Whether you learn about a historical figure like President Lincoln or go on a fantasy adventure with Harry Potter, your mind is taking you to new and exciting adventures.

It is so important that we cultivate our children's love for reading. Reading helps us learn and grow as individuals.

According to the New York State Library, "studies have shown that children who continue to read during the summer when school is not in session perform better in the fall when school resumes."

Unfortunately, many children believe reading is work and not pleasure, but parents can change that easily. Parents have a very important responsibility in their children's growth and education.

Studies have shown that children whose families are involved in their learning become higher achievers and learn more quickly than children whose families are not. It's a big responsibility, but it's not difficult to help your children learn.

The best way is to encourage them to read. When children see their family members reading, writing and conversing, they naturally want to participate. Read with your children. Make it an evening event the whole family can do together.

As chairman of the New York State Senate Subcommittee on Libraries and a former teacher, I try to promote reading and learning as much as possible. I annually sponsor a reading program and this year's theme is "Reading Is Freedom." This program is designed to help encourage children to read and thereby benefit from and realize the rewards of reading. The program requirements are easily attainable. Children should read at least three age-appropriate books during the summer, other than those required for school. This program is geared towards elementary school-age children.

Children who sign up for the program will be given a journal to keep track of the books they read. At the end of the summer, children should send the completed journal with a parent's signature to me. Those who reach their final goals by reading three books and sending in their journals will be awarded a special certificate and bookmark for their efforts. However, their real reward will be better reading skills and, hopefully, a greater appreciation of the enjoyment that books can provide.

Participation in the program will not only improve your children's reading skills, but also help develop a positive attitude toward books and learning. I also encourage children to participate in the New York State Library's reading program. Many public libraries in the State are providing reading and recreation activities related to this program. According to the State Library, over one million students participated in the Statewide summer reading program last year.

Contact your local library about the State Library program. For information on my "Reading Is Freedom" program, click here or call my office at 455-2181 (Albany), 843-2188 (Amsterdam), 762-3733 (Johnstown) or toll-free at (800) 224-5201.