Community College Fills Summer Reading Gap: Wabash Valley College Summer Reading and Science Program
September 20, 2018
By Sandy Craig, Wabash Valley College Library
Wabash Valley College Library, located in Mt. Carmel in southeastern Illinois, has just completed a fifth Summer Reading and Science program for community children. The program has evolved through the years, but it has been a four-to-five-day program, either all in one week or spread over a four-to-five-week span. Age groups have also evolved. The program began with children in pre-K through third grade; however, it became apparent that the science-focused subject matter was better geared to a kindergarten through fourth-grade audience. Each year the focus has been on a science discipline including biology, chemistry, and physics. All science experiments and demonstrations were directly related to the children’s reading time each day and both fiction and informational; reading material included both fiction and informational books. The program introduced a wide range of topics over the years, including endothermic and exothermic reactions, properties of air, animal adaptation and camouflage, properties of flight, and learning to estimate, among others. Participants also visited a dairy farm, explored the campus radio/TV station, and took part in a GPS treasure hunt.
In Wabash County, there is no free library available for county residents so, in many cases, the Wabash Valley College library serves as the public library for them. It can be difficult to promote library activities to the community; therefore, without the cooperation of our local school district and organizations such as our county health department, this program would not have reached those who really needed it. The schools (Wabash Community Unit District 348) have allowed us to bring marketing materials to them for disbursement to their students as appropriate. The health department (Wabash County Health Department) has displayed our posters and given flyers to health department users. AOK (All Our Kids Network) has also helped us to promote our programs through the many service organizations who are members. Many teachers in our area have allowed their own children to participate in the program and in doing so promoted our program. As a community college, part of our mission is to support and enrich our community and we believe programs like ours build bridges to our community. The positive feedback received each year tells us that we are reaching out appropriately to support our community children. M.C., a mom, commented, “My boys enjoyed the summer program. Their favorite part was touring the radio and TV station;” young participants agreed, with one eight-year-old saying, “It was fun! I liked the radio/TV day,” and a six-year-old adding, “I liked volcano day and cupcake day.”