Access to books critical in summer months

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Can a gift of books prevent students from losing reading skills over the summer?
Read Aloud West Virginia believes the answer is yes. The nonprofit has teamed with Greenbrier County Schools, the Hollowell Foundation and the Mary B. Nickell Foundation to replicate a study which found that providing children with self-selected books to read over the summer was effective in preventing loss of reading proficiency.
Each year, some students lose reading skills over the summer. Teachers spend valuable classroom time in the early months of school to bring those skills back to their pre-summer level. Children who spend many hours “plugged in” to electronic devices and do not have easy access to interesting reading material are particularly at risk.
In an effort to limit this summer learning loss, University of Tennessee researchers Richard Allington and Anne McGill-Franzen provided high interest material for students to read over the summer. They found that students who engaged more often in voluntary summer reading had significantly higher reading achievement than a control group.
A strong local Read Aloud chapter with a wonderful working relationship with the county school system, along with the county’s commitment to the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, made Greenbrier County an excellent choice for piloting the project, said Mary Kay Bond, Executive Director of Read Aloud.
“Funding was also critical,” said Bond. “The support of the Hollowell and Mary B. Nickell foundations enabled the dream of replicating the study to become a reality.”
Crichton Elementary School was suggested by Nancy Hanna, Greenbrier County’s contact for the Campaign for Grade Level Reading. Read Aloud staff selected books and provided samples to teachers at the school in April. Teachers spent the month reading selections from the preview books and discussing them with students. At the end of the month, volunteers from the local Read Aloud chapter assisted the children as they chose six favorite titles to build their own personal libraries.
On May 27 and June 6, Bond, Hanna and members of the Greenbrier County Read Aloud board will return to the school to discuss the importance of summer reading with students and families. Each student will receive the books they selected.
For more information or to get involved with Read Aloud West Virginia, visit www.readaloudwestvirginia.org, email readaloud@frontier.com or call 304-345-5212.