Library study

Allison Riley is shown reading a book last summer on the deck of her parents’ home near Maryville. A joint study conducted by the Maryville Public Library and Eugene Field Elementary School shows that many children who participate in the library’s summer reading program show a significant improvement in reading level at the start of the fall semester.

MARYVILLE, Mo. — The Maryville Public Library and Eugene Field Elementary School have released the results of a “limited” study measuring the impact of the library’s 2018 summer reading program on reading scores. 

The study tracked the change in reading scores from spring 2018 to fall 2018 among Maryville public school second and third graders.

According to a library release, results showed that while most of the children gained over the summer, some students lost skills. However, for students who completed the library’s eight-hour reading requirement last year, the average increase was significantly higher. 

The study found that among students entering third grade in the fall, those who completed the library’s Summer Reading Challenge last year increased their reading level at an average rate more than double that of their classmates.

For students entering second grade, summer reading program completion appeared to be linked to a 63 percent increase in reading level growth. 

“Our study was pretty limited, but the good news is that, thanks to the school’s help, we were able to see some local evidence that suggests how powerful a moderate amount of regular reading can be over the summer months,” said library director Stephanie Patterson. 

“The bad news is that the study also revealed the reality of summer reading loss among more than a quarter of Maryville students entering third grade.”

According to the school’s data, 27 percent of Eugene Field’s incoming third graders lost Lexile points over the summer with an average loss of 82 points — about a third of a grade level. 

The Lexile Framework for Reading is an educational tool used to match readers with books, articles and other reading resources. Readers and books are assigned a score on the Lexile scale, in which lower scores reflect easier readability for books and lower reading ability for readers.

Some children, the study showed, lost an entire grade level over the summer months.

“We also learned we have a lot of work to do in improving completion rates among our participants,” Patterson said. “Many families sign their kids up with good intentions, but follow-through often doesn’t happen. 

“We’ll be eager to work with the school and any other potential partners in finding ways to spread the benefit of regular reading to more Maryville kids during the summer months. Otherwise, that gap between summer readers and summer non-readers will not only continue to exist but grow every summer.”

Maryville R-II Assistant Superintendent Steve Klotz, who serves on the library’s board of directors, said the district is eager to partner with Maryville Public Library in promoting its summer reading program. Klotz added that local educators value the impact of a community effort that encourages reading as a habit. 

“When talking about reading and the importance of keeping your skills in shape, we have seen over the years a sharp difference between students who continue reading over the summer compared to those students who do not,” Klotz said.

Library Youth Services Coordinator Elizabeth Argo leads the library’s annual summer reading initiative. 

“Kids who keep reading and listening to books don’t suffer from that ‘summer slide,’ losing up to one reading grade level while school is out,” Argo said. “We want to reach kids early because if the gap continues to widen, by fourth grade it’s difficult for those kids to catch up without extensive intervention.”

The library’s summer reading program is self-directed and open to all Maryville Public Library cardholders. This summer, children will be challenged to read at least 20 minutes a day for 20 days anytime during a nine-week window. 

MPL hosts similar challenges for teens and parents reading to young children. Readers earn prizes provided by the Maryville Pride Lions Club and several local businesses.

New this year is a reading challenge for adults. 

“We want people of all ages to enjoy reading and the fun of the summer reading program,” Argo said. “Children who see their parents or caregivers reading are sent a powerful message about the importance of books. They learn that it’s an enjoyable activity, not a chore.”

Adds Patterson: “I tell parents that whether or not your child is enrolled in our program, reading fitness is like physical exercise. A little done regularly goes a long way. It’s worth the effort to fit just a few books in between other worthy summer pursuits like baseball, fishing, playing outside and spending time with friends and family. 

“The library is simply a part of Maryville’s environment that encourages that type of balance. We aim to support local parents in their efforts to raise strong readers.”

Registration for the library’s summer reading program began May 14. Once registered, readers can begin logging in their reading activity immediately. The last date to log is July 31. 

Readers who registered last summer can simply access the library’s Beanstack app and update their information.

While children’s events at the library are open to the public and do not require a library card, participation in the summer reading program does require a current library card issued to the child or a parent or caregiver living in the household.

Library cards are free to households and property owners within the City of Maryville tax district. Non-residents can purchase a household card with full borrowing privileges for $68 a year — the average annual amount paid in property taxes by Maryville property owners to support the library.

Patterson said Nodaway County families living outside Maryville who are food stamp eligible can apply at the library to have their card paid for by an outside organization. 

Limited-use cards for Nodaway County children may also be available depending on available funding.

For more information about obtaining a library card, go to or call 660-582-5281.

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