Library expands summer reading program

An LAL grant will help the library continue to reach out to children in the CH-UH district during the summer. Here, Youth Services Manager Sam Lapides gives away free books at an event at Noble Elementary School.

This summer, with the help of a $29,900 grant from the Ohio Department of Education (ODE), Heights Libraries will expand its summer reading program. 

According to the ODE, its Libraries Accelerating Learning (LAL) grant is designed to “expand learning opportunities for students in prekindergarten–grade 12. Awardees will use the funding for programming that supports student learning, particularly in literacy, with the goal of accelerating learning for students who have been most impacted by the pandemic.”

Heights Libraries was among 32 Ohio libraries to receive funding from the LAL grant. Other recipients include Cleveland Public Library, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Columbus Metropolitan Library, and Euclid Public Library.

Heights Libraries will use the grant to support and expand the summer reading and learning resource programs it offers to children 18 and younger through a nature-focused community literary initiative.

The library will kick off summer reading with a party in the Coventry PEACE Park on June 7, 6–8 p.m. 

This year’s summer-reading theme, “Adventure Awaits,” was inspired by the children’s book Outside, You Notice, by Erin Alladin, which celebrates nature both lyrically and scientifically. Its themes inspire the hundreds of STEAM- (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) and literacy-based free library programs on tap throughout the community from June 1 to Aug. 11.

“Thanks to the LAL grant, we’ve been able to broaden this year’s summer reading program to incorporate a shared reading of an ‘anchor book’ and incorporate innovative STEAM experiences so our kids can apply their literacy skills to new, project-based disciplines,” said Youth Services Manager Sam Lapides.

“That’s a fancy way of saying that we’re going to explore science and nature this year by using one book as a jumping off point for lots of fun, creative, and science-based learning opportunities that will help kids not just avoid learning loss over the summer but actually make progress, all while having a great time.”

With a goal this big, Heights Libraries can use some help—that's why it has partnered with the CH-UH City School District.

In addition to providing literacy expertise, the schools also serve as a setting for library programming and outreach. Each elementary school invited library staff to visit in May, to encourage participation in summer reading. Kindergarteners, in particular, benefitted as every kindergartener in the CH-UH school district received a copy of Outside, You Notice, whether they signed up for summer reading or not. Library staff have also been invited for the third consecutive year to provide some of the programs at the annual CH-UH Schools Tiger Camp (a summer learning camp hosted by CH-UH schools).

Other summer reading partners include The Anderson Center at Maximum Accessible Housing of Ohio, Art House Cleveland, Cleveland Heights Green Team, University Heights Green Team, Cleveland Heights' Parks & Recreation Department, the Cleveland MetroParks, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Lake Erie Ink, Organic Connects, and Green Noble.

Full details about summer reading can be found at

Sheryl Banks

Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.

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Volume 16, Issue 6, Posted 11:41 AM, 06.01.2023