Part of my job is visiting schools to tell students about our library summer reading program. Nothing is more fun than just sitting down with a bunch of kids and asking them what they are reading. Rest assured, despite all the digital distractions, children still love a good book. But during the summer, when they can’t get to the school library, the only place the less affluent kids can get books is the public library.
Ask any teacher you know about the Summer Slide. Kids who don’t read over the summer lose the skills they gained during the school year. In September, these children have fallen behind their more affluent peers. They need expensive remediation. Which costs tax money. And this loss is cumulative. Some kids never catch up. (According to one study by the Nevada Corrections Department, 85% of the children who “interface” with the criminal justice system are functionally illiterate.) So much for that “nonessential” argument.