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Summer Learning Challenge: Build Stories with Chicago Public Library

Summer is not canceled thanks to Chicago Public Library.

How do you keep your children active, creative, and learning all summer long? The Library is here to help! From July 6 to August 15, children ages 0 to 13, can explore historic and fascinating architecture around the city and the stories behind them – from the comforts of their own homes.

Summer learning challenge continues

It may look a little different this year, but the Summer Learning Challenge is here to support children and families as we continue to navigate our new normal while getting ready for the school year in the Fall. 

This year’s theme? Building Stories. 

“Building activates the mind in different ways. When a three-year-old girl builds blocks, she’s learning to organize objects. When a nine-year-old boy creates his model buildings from cardboard and paper, he is solving problems. When children build their own stories – whether it’s drawing, singing or dancing, they’re letting their imagination free. We want to incorporate all of these skills in this year’s Summer Learning Challenge, along with our three pillars: Reading, Discovering, and Creating.”

– Lori Frumkin, Children and Family Services Librarian

The Summer Learning Challenge incorporates innovative approaches that enable children and families to enjoy this free and accessible program. “With schools closing early due to COVID-19, we understand that summer learning is more critical than ever. That is why the Library has put careful thought and planning in making sure that we can reach as many patrons as possible,” John Mangahas, a school-aged specialist at Chicago Public Library, explained. 

True enough, families can participate in the Summer Learning Challenge in ways that work best for them. There are grab-and-go books and kits that children and parents can pick up at their neighborhood branch and complete at home. You can also download these kits online. Participants can also try science experiments, sing along to new songs with their favorite librarians and friends, go on a treasure hunt adventure, as well as other activities on Facebook and Zoom.

Summer sound off for teens

Summer is for teens too! This year, Chicago Public Library empowers teens to use their voices and creativity to positively express themselves in our ever-changing world. Whether it’s journaling, creating art, harnessing technology’s power, or reading e-books, teens across the city are encouraged to and uplift their communities this summer and beyond.

Summer learning matters now more than ever

Summer learning is a critical tool in helping students prepare for a new school year. According to the National Summer Learning Association, students can lose up to two months’ worth of reading and math skills during the summer. COVID-19 has made this learning gap even wider. Due to school closures and abrupt transition to the virtual classroom, research predicts that children can lose up to 30% of reading skills and 50% of math skills when they return in the Fall. Access to free, high-quality summer learning activities is critical today than ever before.

The Library’s Summer Learning Challenge has been instrumental in creating equitable opportunities for students across our city’s 77 neighborhoods. Consistently, Summer Learning Challenge participants demonstrate 15% gains in reading and 20% gains in math.

As our community thinks through how to better support children’s education, the Library will continue to be here for you – providing the resources students and families need to succeed.

Special thanks to KPMG; Exelon; the Helen M. Harrison Foundation; Wintrust; 75th Street Corridor Improvement Project; Boeing; the Walter E. Heller Foundation; the James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation; Northern Trust; People’s Gas Community Fund; Cubs Charities Community Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund; Dr. Scholl Foundation; Macy’s Inc; Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation; Evergreen Real Estate LLC; and you – for making this program possible. 

Sign up for the Summer Learning Challenge here. Learn more about how Chicago Public Library is here for you and your family when you subscribe to BOOKMARK, our free newsletter.


Stand with Chicago Public Library and support educational services that empower Chicagoans to succeed in school and in life.