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June 10, 2024 – by Cedar Rapids Public Library Director Dara Schmidt

Summer is here, and that means the Summer Reading Challenge is underway at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. 

We believe summer reading is fun for all ages – but it is also vitally important. Data shows summer reading can help prevent “summer slide,” the loss of knowledge and skills many students suffer over the long break between school years. 

Data also shows teens who read frequently report less anxiety and depression than infrequent readers. 

We also know our students need literacy support. Results from the Iowa Statewide Assessment of Student Progress shows that in 2023, about 64% of Cedar Rapids students were proficient in English language arts, well below the statewide average of 71%. For Black students, the number decreases to 42%. 

We believe we can be part of the solution for our students – and so can you. We encourage the adults of our community to join in and model reading to our children. The more our children see people reading around them, the more they will view reading as an enjoyable pass time. Just as Iowa City is the “City of Literature,” we want to be a “City of Literacy.”  

This reading doesn’t have to be “serious” literature to make a difference. Summer reading offers kids the chance to be in control of what they read, instead of reading as an assignment. Graphic novels, manga, magazines – they all count as reading. That freedom to choose makes reading fun – a huge motivator to keep kids wanting to read in the future. 

We want summer to mean families and readers of all ages filling our buildings, looking for new books  – picture books to read together before bed, comic books to binge on hot summer days, beach reads to pack for vacations, and book club picks to catch up. 

We’ve tried to make things as simple as possible this year – just register and read 600 minutes before July 27!  You’ll earn free books, prizes, and chances to win some special grand prizes along the way. Find details at 

Join us! Pick up the latest thriller, romance, or fantasy. Download an audiobook. Read with your kids. Read for yourself. It doesn’t matter what you’re reading – just let yourself slip into a story this summer. 

A signature is signed Dara Schmidt.
A woman in a blue t-shirt that reads "America Needs Librarians" smiles in front of book shelves.