GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — After the coronavirus pandemic and a long summer vacation, some students may have lost their academic skills like reading and comprehension, something known as “learning loss.”

September 6 is national “Read a Book Day.” At Sheppard Memorial Library in Greenville, read a book day is every day.

“All across the community, there were all kinds of people who thought kids start learning when they get to school, you know? But by the time they get to Kindergarten, it’s too late for all that brain development,” said Greg Needham, director at Sheppard Memorial Library.

Needham said the earlier children are exposed to reading and vocabulary, the better lifelong learner they become.

“You’re going to see more and more of these kids hit school ready to go, they’ll come out having good grades in school, they’ll get better jobs, they’ll be more fulfilled, they’ll be healthier, they’ll stay out of trouble,” Needham said.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, students were sent home.

“There was a lot of reading loss, a lot of learning loss, but I do think that there have been a lot of programs that have helped,” said Amber Winstead, a librarian at Sheppard.

According to the NC Department of Public Instruction, in the 2020-21 school year, 54.5% of students tested not proficient in reading skills for the end-of-grade reading assessment for grades third through eighth. Read ENC is a coalition that aims to improve the literacy skills of children in Eastern North Carolina with reading programs and resources.

“They’re not there yet, but they are getting closer,” said Alana Zambone, executive director of Read ENC. “Pitt County Schools has launched a major effort over the last several years, and it’s starting to really pay off.”

Sheppard Memorial Library officials said parents are encouraged to find and sign up their children for reading programs.