Keep them reading-ready

Published 9:01 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mind and body.

Kids who took part in the Suffolk Parks and Recreation summer camp program on Monday got a boost both physical and mental at the Parker Riddick and Cypress Manor public housing complex. Taking a break from the playtime activities that summer day camps are known for, children stepped into a community room and the opportunity to exercise their minds a bit this summer.

Thanks to some creative thinking by a couple of Elephant’s Fork Elementary School teachers, along with a generous $500 George H. Irby Incentive Grant, the only one given to a Tidewater school this year, summer camp participants in the low-income neighborhood will have an opportunity to keep their reading skills sharpened during the summer break from school.

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Studies have shown that children who do not read during the summer come back to school a bit behind their peers who do. In fact, they tend to lose some of the knowledge and skills they’ve picked up during the school year. That means when school starts again in the fall, the non-reading students start the year behind their reading peers. And teachers must either adjust their instructional plans to bring the non-reading students up to speed or watch as those children fall further and further behind.

Those studies recognize a socio-economic aspect to the likelihood of a student being a non-reader during the summer. That’s why Caren Bueshi and Jenny Owens proposed targeting Parker Riddick and Cypress Manor for their program to give away books during the summer.

Having received a grant to help with the purchase price of new books, the ladies selected an assortment of fiction and non-fiction titles, hauled them to the housing project and helped visiting students find just the right things to read. Folks from the Suffolk Public Library set up their Pop-Up Library at another table, where families could register for library cards and check out other books.

It’s important to give children every opportunity to become lifetime readers. We congratulate these teachers for recognizing the chance they had to make such a difference in students’ lives, even outside the regular school year.