Tristan Johnson, Arts & Entertainment Editor

A universe of stories awaits you at your neighborhood public library! This year’s summer reading programs include an overarching space theme to inspire everyone to see what they can discover both at their local library and inside of a book. St. Louis Public Library, St. Louis County Library, and St. Charles City-County Library are the three main districts that serve the students and staff of the UMSL community. 

Summer reading is one of the busiest times of the year for public libraries. Schools are out of session, the weather outside gets warmer, and academic libraries are typically closed. Not only do public libraries offer books to the public, but they also provide many different opportunities for personal development. Most offer free workshops, free internet access and free reference services. If you cannot make it to the physical branch of a library, they also offer free audio and e-reader materials that you can check out from the comfort of your own home. 

In an article for Scholastic, Deimosa Webber-Bey, Scholastic senior librarian and manager of library services, stated that “summer reading presents an opportunity for families and communities to play an active role in ensuring all children can find their story and enjoy the benefits of summer reading.”

Summer reading is an important aspect to ensure students do not lose the momentum that they have been working hard to maintain during the academic year. According to Scholastic, 47% of people are unaware of the “summer slide,” or the loss of academic skills that can occur when students are not in school. The “summer slide” arises typically due to the lack of reading that can happen during the summer months. While it is important to rest during summer vacation so one can recuperate and prepare for the next academic year, it is beneficial to continue to educate oneself so as to not lose all skill. 

Ella, a library assistant for one of the library districts, is more than happy to discuss the benefits of summer reading to anyone who will listen. “As a college student myself, I don’t have time to read during the school year,” she said. “Reading over the summer allows me to catch up on all of the new releases I have missed during the school year.” 

“Not only that, but participating in a summer reading program lets me get prizes for reading,” Ella explained. This is probably one of the most enticing aspects of a summer reading program, as one can get rewarded for furthering their literacy skills! The St. Louis County Library district rewards participants with gift cards and free books, and the St. Charles City-County Library district allows patrons to enter to win a grand prize of either an iPad or a Nintendo Switch. 

The St. Louis Public Library has 17 branches, the St. Louis County Library consists of 21 locations, and the St. Charles City-County Library has 12 branches. The Natural Bridge branch of St. Louis County Library is located less than one mile away from UMSL. Stop by the closest one to you, sign up for their summer reading program and cozy up with an enticing read!