This year, with school, summer camps and childcare abruptly altered, reading over the summer is more important than ever in order for children to maintain grade-level skills and stay curious and excited to learn. Encouraging children to read and practice their literacy skills over the summer is always part of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh’s mission and this year we are working harder than ever to connect children and families to reading. Since the beginning of June, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has partnered with local non-profits to give more than 4,000 books to families across the city so that youth can enjoy reading during the summer. We hope to have distributed over 6,000 books by summer’s end.
Visiting a neighborhood branch to find new books, report their reading to a librarian and earn a Summer Reading prize has been a much-loved summer tradition for many Pittsburgh families. Other children looked forward to monthly visits at their summer camp or childcare center from a local librarian bringing storytimes and new books to their site. However, like so many other traditions this year, this one just can’t be the same.
Thanks to generous financial help from Chase and other contributors, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is working to ensure that Pittsburgh’s children will continue reading, learning and exploring this summer.
In June and July, Library staff selected and boxed thousands of brand-new books for readers ages 0-18. While Library spaces remained closed, partners like the Homeless Children’s Education Fund and Hilltop Family Care Connection shared these books with families. That made it possible for parents to read to their babies before bed, for first-graders to practice independent reading with Llama Llama, for a middle schooler to curl up with a Newbery winner such as New Kid and for teens to enjoy bestselling young adult novels by authors like Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander.
Achieving equitable literacy access for Black and Brown families is a priority for Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Kids and teens should be able to read books written by and about people that look like them. Staff chose books by diverse authors with diverse characters and worked with partners who primarily serve communities of color throughout the city.
Kelly, the Program Coordinator at Family Care Connection in Mount Oliver, told us how excited families were to receive the books and how much they miss the Library. “One of our families,” Kelly shared, “for whom English is their second language, said the books shared with their kindergartener made him so happy! He told his mom not to bother him so he could read!”
Additional book distributions are planned this summer to help keep youth reading. The Library is working with community partners and supporters like Chase to ensure that every child can ask, “Can we read it again?!” this summer.
Thank you Chase and all our Summer Reading Sponsors!