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Reading to Learn Learning for Life

Message from Mayor Anna Peterson, City of Salem.

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Summer reading is vital

Statesman Journal published article June 16, 2013.

Summer and reading have gone hand in hand for me for as long as I can remember.  As children, my sister and I regularly walked with our mother to our local Multnomah County Public Library branch in North Portland.  Since she did not drive a car

we had to weigh in our minds how many books we could carry the 10 or 12 long city blocks back to our home next to the Columbia Villa Housing Project.  Owning books was mostly beyond our reach, but with library cards, we "owned" a huge library that was free and welcoming to everyone. 

After a long day at work and household chores, our mother read to us at bedtime.  Her improvisation of the animals in Doctor Doolittle's stories filled our shared bedroom with African animals and people from across the globe.   I often carried these visions into my dreams, resulting in some strange memories of the stories.  During summer days my sister, our friends, and I spent hours on a blanket in our backyard, traveling the world through stories, plays, and poems.  We even produced a Shakespearean play once, complete with crepe paper costumes and a curtain spread between the apple tree and the shed that held our bikes. 

From these early experiences, I learned the value of access to knowledge and the importance of reading as a lifestyle, rather than as an assignment.  When our children were growing up we regularly visited the library and bookstores with our children, and continued the tradition of reading the summer away.  I am convinced that our three children excelled in school because of the reading habits formed in their early years.  Summer reading is vital for children to maintain the skills learned during the school year.  Success in the coming year is more assuredly guaranteed if children exercise their minds through reading all summer long. 

Salem has made a commitment to literacy and access to knowledge for decades.  Our Salem Public Library staff is constantly finding ways to welcome readers and researches of all ages, of all reading levels, with all languages welcomed, even if we don't have materials in all languages on our shelves.  We can often find materials through inter-library loans or on the web.

So back to Summer...and what it can mean for Salem area adults and children this year.  The library’s Summer Reading Program will be off to a good start as always, and I am furthering the effort by inviting all people who read books this summer to write brief reviews and send them to me.  I promise to read every one of them.  If people prefer to write in their native language, then I will find translators to assist me.  We will post them on the City website, and have them at the Library for a time so everyone can enjoy the fruits of our labors.  And I do mean "our" because I promise to write my review too.    At or near summer's end we will invite every reviewer to a party to celebrate our shared Summer of Reading, Salem Style!     

Anna M. Peterson is the Salem Mayor, an avid reader and passionate to support educational success of all our children and youth.  You can reach and send your book reviews to Mayor Peterson at ampeterson@cityofsalem.net.