Off Beat: Makeup days cut into reading time

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter




 Fort Vancouver Regional Library District serves children in 26 public school districts; they attend more than 160 schools.

 In 2016, the first year summer reading didn’t overlap with the school year, the completion rate for Fort Vancouver’s participants increased from 30 percent to 35 percent.

People at our local libraries are wonderful sources of information on many topics … including the effect of snow and ice on summer reading programs.

Is there really a link between winter snowstorms and efforts to keep kids reading during the summer?

The connection is the makeup days added to the school calendar because of winter-weather cancellations. They’re one reason why library summer reading programs are becoming shorter.

“The snow days have messed us up a bit,” said Amy Scott, program services coordinator with Fort Vancouver Regional Library District.

Just two years ago, Fort Vancouver had a 13-week summer reading program.

As we reported a few days ago, this summer’s reading program started on Thursday and will run through Aug. 15. This is the second year Fort Vancouver is running a two-month program.

The library district used to start summer reading on June 1, Scott said.

“Since then, schools have been creeping into June. The program is for when children are out of school.”

And under the previous timetable, Battle Ground, Evergreen, La Center, Ridgefield, Vancouver, Washougal and Woodland — all communities with Fort Vancouver branches — would be ending this school year about three weeks into the summer reading program.

The independent Camas Public Library is taking a similar approach with summer reading, which starts Saturday and runs to Aug. 26.

“We had planned to have it start earlier. We pushed it back because of all the makeup days Camas put on the school calendar,” said Connie Urquhart, Camas library director.

It’s a new situation for Urquhart, who came to Camas about 11 months ago from California.

“We never had to delay the summer reading program because of snow and ice in Fresno.”

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.