Graphic design by Nayfa Naji

School is almost out and summertime recreation is fast-approaching. Parents and children are planning their precious months ahead, looking for interesting, meaningful activities. Enrolling in a summer reading program is a great way to achieve both. Self improvement and empowerment for youth is a mainstay of Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition’s (MMWC) mission. One of its largest projects, the 12th annual Summer Reading and Activity Camp, is now less than two weeks away. 

The eight week camp for elementary students K5 through 8th grade starts on June 19th and runs until August 9th. Sessions are held on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2pm – 4pm at the Islamic Resource Center library (IRC), 5235 S. 27th St., in Greenfield.  

Registration is now open online, or you can contact the MMWC staff at (414) 727- 4900. Volunteers interested in helping can send an email request to:

IRC librarian Muna Jaber, spoke to Wisconsin Muslim Journal about her process to create beneficial activities. “The goal of our Summer Reading program is to promote an enthusiasm for reading while building a strong connection with the IRC library.” 

The children’s book section and reading room of the IRC library at 5235 S. 27th St. in Greenfield.

Cherished memories and confidence building

High school student Maryam Ibrahim is one of the interns hired for the Summer Reading Program. Ibrahim moved to America when she was 8 years old and discovered the MMWC reading camp. 

“When I first heard about the Islamic library, I told my mom, we have to go! 

“I remember someone came with a bunch of animals, reptiles, and we got to hold them. They taught us how they shed their skin. It was so much fun. At first I was super afraid, especially of the snakes but now, I kinda like snakes, they are cool. This memory stuck with me, it was one of my first memories in America. 

“The reading program helped me feel confident in talking with others, speaking more with others because I was not outgoing when I first came here. I was very shy.”

On a recent visit to the IRC library, Ibrahim discovered that MMWC was looking for interns for the Summer Reading Program that had meant so much to her. She applied and in full circle, is part of the team that will make it special for other kids.

“The fact that I got accepted, and they want me, means a lot because I want to give my time to the Muslim community.”

Benefits of successful reading experiences

This year’s camp includes multiple visits from Mad Science, the leading enrichment provider for children preschool age through grade school. The projects include building robots, insect education, flight and the basics of aerodynamics, movie sound effects and 3-D technology, sense-ative games, using braille cards, investigating ocean dwellers like starfish, sea urchins and shells, canvas painting and a special session with masjid Al-Quran’s beekeeper, Abu Zakaria.

Photo courtesy of Mad Science

The importance of summer reading

Memory, vocabulary and ability to concentrate are areas that can improve as the potential for increasing children’s desire to read. The IRC is a lending library.  Families are encouraged to sign up for a membership card for access to over 4,000 items in the unique catalog of children, teen, adult, reference books, movies, documentaries and music CDs. 

According to Scholastic, eighty-nine percent of children say that their favorite books are the ones they picked out themselves. And in the Scholastic Teacher & Principal School Report, 96% of educators agree that providing year-round access to books at home is important to enhancing student achievement.

Daniel Gisslen, M.D., pediatrician at Henry Ford Health shares five proven benefits of summer reading programs: 

  • Reading preserves academic gains students make over the course of the school year.
  • Improves attention span 
  • Stimulates brain development 
  • Helps children learn empathy 
  • If children are read to, it nurtures bonding and provides comfort.

Photo courtesy of Mad Science

Impacts of summer learning loss

What researchers referred to as the “summer slide” is the estimation that school summer breaks cause the average student to lose up to one month of instruction, with disadvantaged students being disproportionately affected (Cooper, 1996). For BIPOC children, the Summer Reading program helps to maintain language skills during the summer months.

Reading program incentives and prizes

A reading log will track hours participants spend reading when completed there are cool prizes they can choose from. Guidelines are based on age. K5 students receive one prize for every hour, 3rd – 5th grade, one prize for every three hours and 6th – 8th grade, one prize for every five hours. After completion of the reading logs, kids gain entry into the grand prize drawing. The summer camp finale is a movie screening and pizza party to celebrate all the reading achievements. 

In gratitude

The Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition would like to acknowledge the generosity of the Kolaga Family Charitable Trust in support of the annual Summer Reading and Activity Camp.  The value to the children served through their funding is immeasurable.