Celebrating National Summer Learning Day

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National Summer Learning Day is less than one month away! Led by the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), July 12 is a national advocacy day promoting summer learning—and fighting summer slide. This year marks the first joint celebration of National Summer Learning Day, a partnership between NSLA, ACM, and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). The celebration will include a National Read-Aloud of the award-winning children’s book, Trombone Shorty.

Last month, NSLA hosted a webinar to share information about the partnership—and how different organizations can get involved. ALSC President Nina Lindsay kicked off the webinar, saying, “This is the perfect opportunity for libraries and museums to share the value we bring in closing the summer learning gap.”

TromboneShortyLindsay then introduced Bryan Collier, this year’s Summer Learning Ambassador and illustrator of Trombone Shorty. Collier shared images from the book, describing the goals of his work. “I wanted the music to swirl out of his horn. As a young reader, I want them to be engaged, what happens next if it starts out like this?” He also shared why National Summer Learning Day is important to him and his family. “The summertime conjures memories of books and reading… My wife and I read books to our kids every night, even throughout the summer, because we know about summer learning loss.”

Next, ACM Executive Director Laura Huerta Migus shared how children’s museums support summer learning. “Museums absolutely see themselves as a critical part of the learning landscape throughout the year, and in particular during the summer months. We think that museums are particularly positioned to be great community spaces for summer learning programs, much like our partners, libraries.”

Children’s museums often have summer programming for ages two to fourteen. These are more than fun entertainment opportunities—they also support the development of core academic skills. In addition to camps, museums offer drop-in class programs. Many children’s museums offer access programs, and many also participate in Museums for All, an initiative of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) that offers free or reduced admission to those presenting an EBT card.

Liz McChesney, Director of Children’s Services at the Chicago Public Library System, described how libraries are getting involved in summer learning, “giving kids the confidence to navigate the world, one summer at a time.” There will be seven anchor library systems joining NSLA in this first summer read-aloud, including those in Chicago, King County (WA), Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Nashville, New Orleans, and New York.

McChesney offered ideas for how libraries and museums alike can participate in the Read Aloud, sharing, “There are so many ways to celebrate this wonderful book. Bryan talked about seeing sounds, and how the readers of this wonderful book can see sounds. Draw sounds, make a crown party, or read the book aloud.” She also encouraged participants to invite elected officials and media to their events, saying, “We need more good news out there!”

Brett Nicholas from the Museum of Science and Industry (a museum partner of the Chicago Public Library System) spoke next. Nicholas described how National Summer Learning Day participants can tie STEM learning into Trombone Shorty. He shared that exploring science out of school isn’t about delivering content—it’s about embracing how children are already natural scientists.

Nicholas illustrated this with different STEM activities that related to Trombone Shorty, such as making a “sound sandwich” using Craft sticks, a thick rubber band, two smaller rubber bands, and two one-inch pieces of a plastic drinking straw. Find instructions here!

Laura Johnson concluded the webinar by sharing NSLA’s resources at www.summerlearning.org/SummerLearningDay. She also shared that NSLA is a long-standing partner of I Heart Radio, making participating in Summer Learning Day a great opportunity to partner with your local I Heart Radio station.

You can watch the full webinar here.

Is your museum interested in participating in National Summer Learning Day? Check out NSLA for resources, and register your event here.

Alison Howard is Communications Director at the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM). Follow ACM on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook