As a kid, I was fascinated by “The Boxcar Children” series because the children – Henry, Jessie, Violet and Benny – make a home from scratch. They work together to create a place of belonging from broken, discarded dishes and other objects, and they care for each other when they have no one else.
Homes are made. They take shape as we put more of ourselves into them. They inspire feelings such as love and security, but home also is where we create and build things with our hands and learn new skills. It is where we start, try, learn and grow.
At Indian Prairie Public Library, we believe learning starts at home. We understand children first learn from watching their families interact with the world and then by mirroring those behaviors and values. We also know reading together at home and having books in the home are both indicators of a child’s future success. According to the Program for International Student Assessment, a study that evaluates educational systems, children who grow up in homes with books, regardless of their parents’ education level or income, advance further in their education and have greater overall success.
This summer, the IPPL Kids and Teens Department is celebrating the creative possibilities and learning potential of home with a home-themed summer reading challenge called Homemade Readers. The challenge will run June 13 through Aug. 8, and we hope to encourage families to learn, explore, play and grow together while inspiring a love of reading.
To accomplish this, we will be providing interactive opportunities all summer, including family events ranging from Kids Canning 101 and The ABCs of Bees to Little Hands Art and family storytimes. In addition, families can find inspiration in our Wouldshop. This year-round makerspace includes how-to books, as well as tools and materials for select projects. What is a makerspace, you ask? A makerspace is a creative, do-it-yourself space where people can gather to learn, create and invent. All ages are welcome, and families are invited to explore together.
We also hope to inspire and encourage children to read this summer with Homemade Readers. Each child can set their own reading goal, and upon completing it, receive a book plus a ticket for the grand-prize drawing. Children can re-up as many times as they want to stretch themselves to read even more.
The Homemade Readers Summer Reading Challenge will kick off with a Family Fort-Building and Reading Lock-in on June 13. We hope you will join us this summer as we celebrate home and all of its possibilities.
Natalie Williams is the head of Youth Services at Indian Prairie