Meet our 2024 Library Foundation Award honorees.

Make This Summer (Learning) Count

Every summer, Chicago’s students are at risk of losing more than two months’ worth of math and reading skills. Chicago Public Library is changing that, one summer at a time.

Summer Learning Challenge
                              This is one slide you don’t want children to be on.

The Hidden Side of Summer
Imagine you’re a 9-year old child, and you hear the sentence, “It’s summer!” What comes to mind? Freedom from the four corners of the classroom? All-day play marathon, perhaps? iPad-computer-video games combo? What won’t be on your mind, however, is school. It is vacation after all.
But the learning faucet should not be turned off once school is out. Studies have shown that the summer months are a critical time for children. Students can succumb to the summer slide−the loss of learning during school breaks. According to the National Summer Learning Association, it then takes approximately 5-6 weeks of school to reteach the previous year’s skills.
According to research, summer learning (or lack thereof) accounts for the widening achievement gap between affluent and disadvantaged students.
This doesn’t have to be the case. Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive in a high-quality program that encourages learning all summer long. This is the focus of Chicago Public Library’s Summer Learning Challenge since its redesign in 2013 to attract all learner types.

Summer Learning Challenge

The Fun of Summer Learning
“Students learn best when they enjoy what they do,” says Liz McChesney, Director of Children’s Services at CPL. Such a philosophy is evident in this robust program that begins on June 24. This year’s theme? Explorers at Play. Children 0 to 13 years old and their families will learn about sports science, health, nutrition, and power of play while enjoying hands-on STEAM workshops, field trips, performances, and other activities−for FREE! Built into the program are challenges that encourage children to Read, Discover, and Create while earning fun prizes.
Teens are not left out either. Highschoolers can hang out in our teens only space at YOUmedia and geek out with coding, mess around making art, record videos and music—all while making friends.
Thoughtfully and intricately woven into each activity are the elements of creativity, discovery, exploration, play, and reading−all of which create a summer of holistic learning.
Who says learning during school break has to be a bore? On the contrary, summer engagement at Chicago Public Library is fun! More importantly, it works. Our partners at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago concluded that Summer Learning Challenge participants demonstrate 15% gains in reading and 20% gains in math compared to their peers who did non-participate.
Up for the Challenge?
In 2018, more than 110,000 students−a record high in the program’s history−became Earth Explorers as they learned about our unique planet and the environment. This year, with your help, we hope to have more kids take up the Summer Learning Challenge.
 How about you? Are you up for the challenge of helping Chicago’s children learn all year-round? Are you ready to narrow the achievement gap by giving students the opportunity to participate in the Summer Learning Challenge? A gift of $25, provides a full summer of workshops, field trips, performances and educational resources for 4 children that will set them up for school success.
Chicago Public Library Foundation