Summer Reading12 – 2, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from The Daring Librarian’s photostream

In the era of high-stakes testing and the immense pressure put on parents, teachers, and kids to perform in reading and math the idea of reading for enjoyment can often be lost in the rush to acquire the technical skills necessary to succeed on the tests. Yet every study has shown that kids who are nurtured and develop habits of reading for enjoyment are much more successful academically later in life. We need to find new ways to help promote reading not as a task that must be completed but as a form of enjoyment and relaxation that supports a child’s imagination and becomes a fulfilling habit throughout their entire lives. Mayors across the country have created successful Summer Reading Programs that I would like to emulate as Mayor of Pittsburgh. But we have something they don’t –- we have an incredible system of Carnegie Libraries that are in a class of their own in the United States. I will work with the CLP to create the nation’s finest Summer Reading Program and inspire a new generation of kids to pick up a book for fun, not just because they have to.

1. Mayor’s Summer Reading Program

Working with the Carnegie Library system of Pittsburgh I will create a summer reading program for kids of all ages. The CLP already puts out great summer reading lists that we can build off of and identify a few great books to share each summer. We will work together to create three programs -– one for elementary school, one for middle school, and one for high school. Students can sign up at their local library and pick the level of book that appeals to them the most. Then every two weeks we will meet at a different library around the city with each level of the reading program to discuss the book we’re reading and talk about the other books we love.

Not only will the Summer Reading Program help introduce younger kids to the concept of reading for fun but it will also give them a chance to meet their Mayor in person and talk about the issues that matter to them in Pittsburgh. I want to be a role model to our kids and to be someone they can feel comfortable talking to not just about books but about anything that is on their mind. They need to know that their government cares about them and that they are an important part of this city.

For high school aged kids, the Summer Reading Program will provide an opportunity for a higher-level discussion about urban issues across the country. I would like to focus these reading lists on history and policy issues that are relevant to Pittsburgh and to the country as a whole. I envision these meetings to be back and forth discussions about the issues that matter to our high schoolers as they are making decisions about their future.