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With funding from Vermont Afterschool’s Summer Expanding Access grant, the Rockingham Free Public Library will be introducing the Mobile Book Trike and a bigger summer reading program.

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BELLOWS FALLS — This summer the Rockingham Free Public Library’s annual summer reading program is expanding like never before — on three wheels. With funding from Vermont Afterschool’s Summer Expanding Access grant, the library will be introducing the Mobile Book Trike and a bigger summer reading program.

The program kicks off in July. The library will be offering its traditional summer program, which includes multiple weekly storytimes, hands-on STEAM projects, teen programs, special events and presentations, and more, in addition to connecting youth with books that they will enjoy and reading rewards for taking part throughout the summer. Simultaneously, the Book Trike will start travelling around the village. Book Trike routes will be announced later in June.

The summer reading program has been a key priority at the Rockingham Free Public Library for decades, helping youth avoid “summer learning loss,” which is the loss of academic achievement students experience during the summer. It is estimated that students can lose up to two months of reading achievement.

As the pandemic enters its third year, recent studies now show that about one third of children in the youngest grades are missing reading benchmarks, up significantly from before the pandemic. Children in every demographic group have been affected, but Black and Hispanic children, as well as those from low-income families and those with disabilities, have fallen the furthest behind.

Summer learning research shows how important developing summer reading habits and having access to enrichment opportunities can combat learning loss and help build a solid foundation for success.

The trike’s routes will include easily reachable stops in the villages of Bellows Falls and Saxtons River. Go to rockinghamlibrary.org and take the Book Trike Survey to suggest a stop. While the library will try to accommodate all requested stops, priority will be given to stops where groups of children are available, for example home cares and day cares, youth programs and specific neighborhoods. The library is also looking for locations interested in hosting a special event, for example a storytime, book group or presenter/performance.