Reach for the world, read!

by CINDY KITZROW
Director of Library and Media Services

Each year the Rockford Public Schools’ (RPS) reading specialists and library staff have a tradition of promoting summer reading. The theme for the 2009 Summer Reading Program is “Reach the World… Read.” The primary purpose of the program is to encourage students to read throughout the summer.

The students are given a goal sheet. They record the books or minutes they spend reading. The students are asked to read 10 grade/age appropriate books or spend 15 hours reading throughout the summer. Each student who completes their reading goal will be invited to participate in a special celebration when they return to school in the fall.

Research and beginning-of-year scores show that children who do not read consistently over the summer lose fluency and are prone to more reading “errors” in the fall. The summer-reading effect on student achievement is well-researched. The long summer breaks the rhythm of instruction which leads to forgetting and requires a significant amount of review when the student returns in the fall. Reading programs have a positive effect in showing literacy growth. Studies support the findings that those who read more know more.

The culmination of our summer reading program will be celebrated with a one-day reading event. The Rockford Rotary Club is also charged to improve/increase literacy through various activity involvements. On Saturday, August 29, Rotary is sponsoring a reading celebration called “Reading Rocks in Rockford.” The Krause Memorial Library along with the RPS library staff, reading specialists and teachers are helping to plan numerous events for children of all ages. We will have Michigan authors, celebrity readers, and much more performing on the Garden Park stage. There will also be various reading activities throughout the city.

The community will also help kick off the RPS K-12 fall reading program called “Pennies for Peace.” We will be reading the books Three Cups of Tea and Listen to the Wind by Greg Mortenson. “Pennies for Peace” is a service-learning program. We will be collecting pennies to help support a school in the remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We all want to share our vision to reach communities around the world to increase and improve literacy.

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