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Superintendent asks for parental help in summer reading program for students

Varnett’s superintendent has announced a reading initiative that challenges all students to read at least six books this summer.

According to the plan by Dr. Margaret Stroud, the students will keep a journal of the books they’ve read and discuss them after they return to school on August 24, 2015. The students, with the help of their parents, also are asked to build a personal library of 50 books in a contest that would earn them the “Superintendent’s Super Reading Award,” if achieved.

The six Scholastic books for each student will be supplied by the district and will require parents to be key supporters in helping students maintain and increase their reading skills. “Teachers will show parents how to use the books even if it means listening to their children read,” Dr. Stroud said. Research shows that students lose an edge in reading and comprehension during the summer if they do not practice the lessons and homework they’ve done during the school year.

“The most successful way to boost the reading achievement of all children is to increase their access to books – at home, in school and over the summer months,” Karine Apollon, vice president of Scholastic’s Literacy Initiatives, said in a statement.

The summer reading program is a continuation of other reading initiatives launched by the superintendent. In April and May, Varnett’s support staff and administrators chipped in with “Power Hour,” providing reading tutorials for students labeled as “non-readers.” The sessions were one hour a day, two days a week, with tutors using both books and Kindles.

Dr. Stroud said some of the summer reading materials are designed to help younger Spanish-speaking students practice reading in English.  The journal has a handy reading log in the back to keep track of all the books each child has read. Children will be encouraged to share their journal writing with a friend or family member. Why? “Your writing will likely spark fascinating conversations on topics such as books, growing up, caring for the planet, heroes, history, animals, friendship, and so much more,” Scholastic says.

The superintendent said the journals will help provide teachers a snapshot of where students stand as readers and establish a baseline from which teachers can work.

Some of the books to be given to households include “Ten Black Dots,” “Thunder and Lightning,” “I Dreamed of Flying Like a Bird,” “Winter’s Tail,” “How Does Your Salad Grow?” “Underground, and “Un gato y un perro,” or “A Cat and a Dog."

According to Scholastic and other educators:

  • The summer learning shortfall experienced by low-income elementary school children has consequences that reverberate throughout their schooling and can affect whether a child ultimately makes it to high school and college.
  • All young children experience learning losses when they don’t engage in educational activities during the summer.
  • Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure their children have productive things to do.

As for the 50-book library, “we encourage friends and relatives to purchase books for birthdays or other special occasions,” Dr. Stroud said.

Please call your child's campus to find out when the books will be made available.

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