Chicago Kids Break Records in Chicago Public Library’s 2013 Summer Learning Challenge

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Library Commissioner Brian Bannon announced today that a record-breaking 71,260 children and young teens read 2.1 million books as part of Rahm’s Readers, the Chicago Public Library’s Summer Learning Challenge. As comparison, last summer 60,232 children read more than 1.5 million books.

This result means that Mayor Emanuel, Commissioner Bannon and Library Board member and former Chicago Bear Israel Idonije will be getting wet this winter—they challenged the children of Chicago that if they read more than 2 million books during Rahm’s Readers, the trio would jump in Lake Michigan in March as part of the Polar Plunge benefitting the Special Olympics.

This summer’s program was entitled “Full STEAM Ahead” and focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math skills through programs offered at all 79 CPL locations. Program partners the Museum of Science and Industry, the Art Institute of Chicago and the Goodman Theatre offered fun and interesting programs at the Library and in their locations, and children were able to earn electronic badges in recognition of engaging in a myriad of activities related to those topics.

“Studies show that children lose up to three months of math and science learning during the summer, so including those areas into an already successful reading program made perfect sense,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The Library and Rahm’s Readers provided children with a safe, fun activity during the long break between school years while also creating a solid educational foundation for their return to studies in the fall.”

New this year, the Library also asked children to record how many minutes they spent reading, as this encourages kids to take the time to try books that might be a bit more difficult, while still giving them credit for the time spent doing so. 56,700,000 minutes were spent reading in the eight-week program—equal to 100 years spent reading.

“We are very excited that a record number of children participated in the summer reading program,” said Commissioner Bannon. “By expanding the program to allow more ways for kids to participate, many more kids took part and explored the world around them this summer. We clearly still managed to get them reading, even if they started by creating art or science projects.”

Presented by the Chicago Public Library, Rahm’s Readers Full Steam Ahead, the Summer Learning Challenge, is privately funded through the Chicago Public Library Foundation and sponsored by the James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation, Cubs Care, a McCormick Foundation Fund, Dr. Scholl Foundation, Kraft Foods Foundation, Macy’s Foundation, Motorola Solutions Foundation, Helen M. Harrison Foundation, RR Donnelley, ComEd, Walter E. Heller Foundation, RPM Advertising and the Pearson Foundation.

The program was presented in partnership with the Museum of Science and Industry, Art Institute of Chicago, Goodman Theatre, Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and the National Summer Learning Association.