September 15, 2014

Mayor Emanuel Announces Chicago Kids Read Over 2.7 Million Books This Summer As Part Of The Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge

Record-Breaking Number of Books Read Fulfills Chicago’s End of The Bargain On Wager With Tonight Show Host Jimmy Fallon

Mayor's Press Office    312.744.3334

Mayor Emanuel announced today that Chicago’s kids have read a record breaking 2.7 million books this summer as part of Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge, with over 83,000 of Chicago’s kids reading a total of 66 million minutes over the summer months. 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. Last year, 71,000 of Chicago’s kids read over 2.1 million books totaling 56 million minutes of reading over last summer.

“Studies show that children lose up to three months of critical learning during the summer months, by expanding and encouraging greater participation in Rahm’s Readers to include both early readers and teenagers we are offering more ways for more of Chicago kids to close the learning gap over the summer months,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “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 even more prepared for success. We set high expectations last summer for the kids of Chicago, and we have seen time and again that our children not only meet the challenge but go above and beyond the goal.”

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 who did the Polar Plunge earlier this year, Mayor Emanuel redoubled his belief in Chicago’s kids this summer challenging them to read 2.4 million books. He wagered that if the goal was reached, Fallon would have to host the Tonight Show in Chicago for the first time since 1998.

“It’s time to pick a venue, Jimmy,” Mayor Emanuel said. “And we have plenty of places in Chicago that would be perfect for your show.”

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

Meant to encourage critical early learning skills, the Chicago Public Library also introduced for the first time an early literacy component for ages 0-5 years as part of the Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge. The American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes that an important part of brain development occurs within the first few years of life, and reading to young children enhances vocabulary and communication skills. Early readers need to have at least 1,000 stories read aloud to them before they are able to learn to read themselves. Young children are encouraged to read, or be read to, for 20 minutes per day and receive an age-appropriate activity log through the Rahm’s Readers program.

Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge has also for the first time included 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.

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 completed 300 minutes and other learning activities received prizes courtesy of the Chicago Public Library Foundation and were entered to win an e-reader, in addition to earning both Library and City of Learning electronic badges.

Chicago kids spent eight weeks this summer through Rahm’s Readers Explore and Roar reading, discovering and creating around the theme of animals, habitats and wildlife in this engaging program. The “Explore and Roar” efforts were the result of strong partnerships between the CPL, CPS, Chicago Park District, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo, The Museum of Science and Industry, and The Anti-Cruelty Society for the Summer Learning Challenge.

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.

Since 1873, the Chicago Public Library (CPL) has encouraged lifelong learning by welcoming all people and offering equal access to information, entertainment and knowledge through innovative services and programs, as well as cutting-edge technology. Through its 80 locations, the Library provides free access to a rich collection of materials, both physical and digital, and presents the highest quality author discussions, exhibits and programs for children, teens and adults. CPL recently received the Social Innovator Award from Chicago Innovation Awards; won a National Medal for Library Services from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and was ranked number one in the U.S. and third in the world by an international study of major urban libraries conducted by the Heinrich Heine University Dusseldorf in Germany For more information, visit or call the Chicago Public Library at 312.747.4050.