Under the auspices of the Berea College Promise Neighborhood project, a summer reading program was implemented in the summers of 2013, 2014, and 2015 not only to address “summer slide” but to collaborate with community stakeholders to promote literacy, promote at-home literacy interactions, add to at-home libraries and print-rich environments, promote student to text and student to student dialogue, and support college and career readiness.
Over the course of three summers, the summer reading project provided participating students in fifth through eighth grades, books mailed directly to their homes during the summer break. Students had input into the book selections, which was guided by the Find a Book feature of the Lexile Framework© to match individual interests and Lexile ranges. In addition, parents/guardians received postcard mailings suggesting literacy-based activities and discussions to engage in with their readers. In the summer of 2015 alone, over 300 exiting sixth, seventh and eighth grade students from across the Neighborhood, collectively received nearly 2000 books during the break.
Since initial implementation in 2013, the following project goals have been met:
- Providing students access to texts during the summer break.
- Matching students to texts based on interests and Lexile® levels.
- Collaborating with community stakeholders to promote literacy.
- Working together with families to promote literacy-rich interactions.
- Building at-home libraries and print-rich environments.
- Promoting a culture that values independent reading.
In addition, the reading comprehension scores of some students have sustained or improved following participation in the project.
Students themselves have responded enthusiastically to the project. Here is a sampling of student comments:
- “It helps kids get into reading.”
- “It is extremely important so people can continue to have their mind exercised.”
- “It is important because it keeps your mind sharp.”
- “Reading in the summer is very important because you are able to continue your learning experience at home.”
- “I like having books to read over the summer and getting a new one every few weeks.”
- “It gives me a chance to read more books.”
- “I like the book because it inspired me to do things that I never thought I’d do.”
- “I really enjoyed the thrill I got when I knew one (book) was supposed to come in.”
- “It is fun, you can keep learning, and if you are bored you could just sit down and relax and read a book.”
Berea College, Berea, Kentucky