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Leave the Slip ‘N Slide outside

Published: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 2:04 p.m. CDT

During the summer, the Slip ‘N Slide was one of my favorite outdoor activities as a kid.  

If you’re not familiar with the Slip ‘N Slide, it’s a long plastic mat that sprays water when connected to an outside water faucet. The fun begins as you run at break-neck speed, hurling yourself down to the mat laid out on the ground. All the while, you’re crossing your fingers as all your body parts hit the mat and you hope to come to a safe stop without landing face-first in the rose bushes.  

I spent hours perfecting my slide while the radio played in the background. I only stopped to go inside after injury to my extremities – usually a wicked grass burn on my leg.

Once inside, my daredevil feats and adventurous spirit continued, although in a much safer venue– through the pages of books.  

To say I loved reading as kid is an understatement. Growing up in a rural area with vast distances between houses and no sidewalks to easily meet up with friends, characters within books joined my close circle of friends and took me on some pretty incredible adventures.

With Laura Ingalls Wilder from the “Little House” books, we explored the frontier together, commiserating how Nellie Oleson was so mean and shared the same annoying traits as my nemesis at school. My favorite place to visit, however, was over at Pippi Longstocking’s house. She was an orphan who lived by herself, so Pippi got to do pretty much whatever she wanted. Did you know she had a horse that lived on her front porch?

I spent countless summer hours reading, experiencing one adventure after another. Little did I know that reading each day during the summer was as important as getting enough daily food, exercise and sleep. That’s right. Reading during the summer is that important.

A three-year reading study conducted by faculty at the University of Tennessee confirms why public libraries put so much effort into summer reading programs for children.  According to researcher Richard Allington, “Children who do not read in the summer lose two to three months of reading development.”  

Fortunately, you’ll find reading support close by at your local public library. There is a treasure trove of books and summer reading programs for your family to experience and enjoy.

Trust me, your child’s teacher will know if they spent time reading this summer. As much fun as a Slip ‘N Slide is, make sure you’re having they’re having fun reading, too.

Yvonne Bergendorf is the director of the Wood Dale Public Library

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