When school is out, reading tends to take a backseat to bike rides, vacations and lazy mornings, but a returning program is aiming to immerse local kids in literature throughout the summer in a fun and pressure-free fashion.
Read to Success, a partnership between Great Rivers United Way and the School District of La Crosse, is again sending students home with three new books to supplement their home libraries, selected to meet the interests and comprehension skills of their grade level. Funding for Read to Success, which also matches local businesses with students for tutoring in fall and spring semester, came from the Franke Foundation in the amount of $10,000.
During the 2017-18 school year, employees from Kaplan, Trane, LHI, Dairyland Power and First Community Credit Union were among those who worked one-on-one with third-graders on a weekly basis to improve reading and vocabulary, and books will be sent home with students in grades K-2 for a jumpstart on the upcoming school year.
“The goal is to make sure kids have books over the summer to address this issue we call ‘summer reading slide,’” said Rob Tyvoll, supervisor of academic programs for the School District of La Crosse. “We’re putting books right at their fingertips for easy access.”
Volunteers from the United Way, school officials and several Logan Middle School students packed up 3,000 books yesterday morning at the Hogan Administrative Building, to be distributed later this month to kids at seven area elementary schools. Tucked in each book, a “recipe card” offers parents or reading buddies prompts to enhance learning, such as discussing a character or predicting how the book will end.
The interactive learning concept falls under the umbrella of the GRUW Sparks! Collaborative, which encourages parent-child education and communication to further development, increase interest and promote future success.
“Any time you put books into the hands of kids, it’s going support their academic career,” said Mary Kay Wolf, director of GRUW. “A really important thing here is picking things that are developmentally appropriate. It’s crucial for parents to be a part of this process.”
Melissa Ender, literacy specialist for the School District, says care was taken to choose books with culturally sensitive topics and diverse characters, with a mix of humorous, fictional and biographical reads. Among those selected for kindergarteners was “Sea Otters” from National Geographic, while first-graders received the comical “Cookiesaurus Rex.” The second-grader collection included “Shark Lady,” the illustrated story of American ichthyologist Eugenie Clark.
“Our hope is that some of these books become favorites that students read over and over again,” Ender said.
Student feedback was enthusiastic at book distribution last spring, Tyvoll said, and he expects some joyful faces again this year.
“Any child enjoys getting a book, especially if it’s one of their own,” Tyvoll noted. “It becomes a treasure.”