WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) School may be out for summer, but that doesn’t mean that the books should be stored away until the fall.

The United Way of Wyoming Valley teamed up with the Wilkes-Barre Family YMCA at Coal Street Park for National Summer Learning Week, designed to encourage children to continue reading during the summer months.

“If we can keep kids active and learning during the course of the summer, they can start the next school year more prepared to learn and reading is a big deal,” says Bill Jones, President/CEO United Way of Wyoming Valley.

The event started off with story time, as children gathered around to listen to Lennae Thompson, the YMCA Food and Fun Coordinator, read a book. She said not only do the kids smile when the kids get together, but the parents are happy too.

She says, “Parents just love having somewhere for the kids to go and have someone play with them and be involved in their kids’ lives. It’s an overall great thing we’ve got going on.”

After story time, the children were able to dig through the books to find the ones they like.

“We see a lot of children eager to pick out a new book. Many children in our community do not have access to free books, that’s why we deliver this program,” says Jennifer Deemer, Vice-President of Community Impact.

During the summer months when kids aren’t in school, children can have a learning loss called “summer slide”. This yearly book distribution is hoping to keep their minds ‘thinking’ during the summer and ready to learn for the return to school.

Deemer says, “The United Way of Wyoming Valley is really fighting for children to be proficient readers by the end of third grade.”

The program is offered for children from kindergarten to 12th grade.

“These books were generously donated to the United Way of Wyoming Valley as part of our annual children’s book drive, ” Deemer says.

Last summer, nearly 16,000 books were distributed to at least 3,600 participating children.