Children and exercise go together naturally, and that’s especially so in the summer months when the term is painted with broad strokes. But if those strokes are limited to physical activity alone, your canvas is too narrow, according to studies which advocate for the importance of mental activity when school is out of session.

Within the range of mental exercise, reading may be the most important. And, with the help of the Appalachian Regional Library System, it may also be one of the easiest to achieve.

The libraries within the regional system, including Ashe and Watauga, offer summer reading programs and challenges designed to keep children mentally engaged — an important goal since reports indicate that children who read during the summer not only gain knowledge, but better retain what they learned during the previous year.

Indeed, one study for the University of Tennessee indicates that children who don’t read during long breaks from school lose at least two months of reading development.

To that end, our county libraries work diligently in their summer offerings. Among the popular reads are fiction and nonfiction books for all age levels, including graphic novels. And, for even the most reluctant reader, audio book research suggests a boost in literacy skills can be obtained while increasing listening skills.

Booking some time with our children at the library this summer is a fundamental way to broaden young horizons.

Visit for times, dates and more information.

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