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Mayor Emanuel Issues New Challenge to Rahm’s Readers, Expands Program

Mayor Rahm Emanuel kicked off the annual Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge on Monday, June 9, 2014 at the Frederick A. Douglass Branch of the Chicago Public Library. This year, the Chicago Public Library’s Summer Learning Challenge has the theme “Explore and Roar” and lasts from Monday, June 9, 2014 to Friday, August 2, 2014.

Mayor Emanuel is expanding Rahm’s Readers to include tots who have books read to them in addition to schoolchildren who can read themselves. He has also issued a new challenge to read 2,400,000 books this summer. If they meet this goal, Jimmy Fallon will host The Tonight Show here for the first time since Jay Leno brought the show here in 1998.

The Mayor’s Office stated in a press release, “Rahm’s Readers is designed to encourage more kids to participate and provide additional activities as opportunities for kids to grow and learn, serving as a cornerstone of the city-wide Summer of Learning initiative.”

“Studies show that children lose up to three months of critical learning during the summer months, by expanding and encouraging greater participation in the Rahm’s Readers program we are not only bringing more of Chicago’s children into the library, but making sure our kids stay engaged, stay learning and start school in the fall even more prepared for success,” said Mayor Emanuel. “We set high expectations last summer for the kids of Chicago, and we have seen time and again Chicago’s kids not only meet the challenge but exceed it, so I have complete faith that the kids of Chicago can top last year’s total by reading more than 2.4 million books this summer and have a great time doing it.”

Last year, over 71,000 children read over 2,100,000 books totaling 56,000,000 minutes of reading over last summer. On July 3, 2013, Mayor Emanuel and Library Board member and former Chicago Bear Israel Idonije issued a challenge on Windy City Live to the children participating in Rahm's Readers, the Chicago Public Library’s Summer Learning Challenge.

If they read 2,000,000 books, Mayor Emanuel, Idonije, and Library Commissioner Brian Bannon would jump into Lake Michigan during the annual Chicago Polar Plunge, which benefits the Special Olympics. In the summer of 2012, 60,232 children had participated in Rahm’s Readers summer reading program and had read approximately 1,500,000 books.

Idonije, a Nigerian-Canadian, had played with the Chicago Bears from 2003 to 2012. A few days before he and Mayor Emanuel issued the challenge, he had signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Lions.

On March 18, 2014, he signed a one-year contract to return to the Bears, but they released him on Thursday, June 19, 2014, the Chicago Tribune’s Rich Campbell reported. He is now a free agent.

The 2013 program was entitled “Full STEAM Ahead” and focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math skills through programs offered at all seventy-nine C.P.L. locations. Program partners the Museum of Science & Industry, The Art Institute of Chicago, and the Goodman Theatre offered programs at the C.P.L. and in their locations. Children were able to earn electronic badges in recognition of engaging in a myriad of activities related to those topics.

On August 29, 2013, the C.P.L. announced that 71,260 children and young teens had read 2,100,000 books as part of Rahm’s Readers, which meant Emanuel, Bannon, and former Library Board member Idonije would take the Polar Plunge. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon accepted Mayor Emanuel's Twitter challenge to join them.

Over 3,200 people, including Emanuel, Idonije, Fallon, and Olympic free style skier Nick Goepper participated in the 2014 Polar Plunge in Lake Michigan at Lincoln Park's North Avenue Beach on Sunday, March 2, 2014. They raised just under $1,000,000 for Special Olympics. Idonije took the Polar Plunge shirtless and Fallon took the Polar Plunge in a business suit.

The Mayor’s Office stated, “Following the success of last year’s Rahm’s Readers program and the subsequent friendly dare between Mayor Emanuel and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, Mayor Emanuel has redoubled his belief in Chicago’s kids challenging them to read 2.4 million books this summer, and if reached ensuring Fallon will host the Tonight Show in Chicago for the first time since 1998.”

Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge is a free program, funded through the Chicago Public Library Foundation, and meant to keep children engaged in learning over the summer break, to prevent the ‘summer slide,’ a documented loss of academic knowledge and skills in kids who don’t take part in such summer activities.

Chicago kids will spend the next eight weeks reading, discovering and creating around the theme of animals, habitats and wildlife in this engaging program…

Through Saturday, August 2, 2014 children can “Explore and Roar” as the C.P.L. partners with Chicago Public Schools (C.P.S.), the Chicago Park District, the Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo, The Museum of Science and Industry, and The Anti-Cruelty Society for the Summer Learning Challenge.

The Library’s Summer Learning Challenge not only helps build literacy by promoting reading at least 20 minutes a day, but ensures Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) skills are cultivated during the summer months through the specially designed Rahm’s Readers Explorer Guide. Participants are encouraged to read at least 20 minutes a day for a total of 300 minutes or more. Those who complete 300 minutes and other learning activities receive prizes courtesy of the Chicago Public Library Foundation and will be entered to win an e-reader, in addition to earning both Library and City of Learning electronic badges. Fun programs will be held throughout the challenge with the Library’s partner agencies as a part of Chicago City of Learning

For the first time, the C.P.L. is introducing an early literacy component for children from a few months old to five years old. The C.P.L. stated, “Early readers age 0-5 need to have at least 1,000 stories read aloud to them before they are able to learn to read.”
Young children are encouraged to read, or be read to, for twenty minutes per day and will receive an age-appropriate activity log. Meant to encourage critical early literacy skills, this is a parent/child piece available in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Polish.

Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge will also include a teen-specific reading program and summer journal for ages 14-18, encouraging teens to “Make Your Imprint.” Following the animal theme, offers youth the opportunity to earn prizes for reading 600 minutes over the eight weeks, as well as journaling their discoveries through hands-on activities and exploration.

“With the expansion of our Summer Learning Challenge to include both early readers and teenagers, we are offering more ways to close the learning gap over the summer months, and partnering with some of Chicago’s best institutions to make sure this is a dynamic summer program for Chicago youth,” said Commissioner Bannon. “We are so grateful to Chicago Public Library Foundation and their donors for making this program possible.”

Summer Learning Challenge “Explore and Roar” materials and more information can be found at local branches and on the C.P.L. Web site.

Rahm’s Readers is made possible by The James & Madeleine McMullan Foundation, Bank of America, Cubs Care fund of the McCormick Foundation, Comcast, Dr. Scholl Foundation, CPL Foundation Junior Board, Helen M. Harrison Foundation, Macys, Peoples Gas, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, ComEd, RR Donnelley, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Foundation, Verizon, The Field Foundation of Illinois, The Crown Family, Sarita Warshawsky, and RPM Advertising through the Chicago Public Library Foundation.

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