It would be impossible to overstate the importance of summer reading and the threat of that pesky “summer slide” that affects each and every classroom. To combat this dreaded phenomenon, Scholastic came up with the idea for “Read-a-Palooza” to help inspire kids to read… and the town of Sapulpa in Oklahoma has come up with their own unique way.
A book & snack mobile has recently started making the rounds through the town of Sapulpa from 9:00AM to 12:10PM, making four stops to offer children books to read and snacks to munch on. One of the biggest challenges teachers face in Sapulpa is having to reteach material from the previous year for a month before being able to reintroduce new things. What this Book & Snack mobile does is offer children a book to read, any book, to help keep them up to speed. Even if this helps cut back on a week or two of reteaching, it is a huge step forward for teachers. In just its first week, the mobile has checked out over 200 books and gave out around 60 meals to children.
image via Caring Community friends
Julie Enlow, a Sapulpa Public School instructional coach, helped organize this project by reaching out for donations from Sapulpa Public Schools and Caring Community Friends, which is the largest food pantry in the county. With the monetary donations, they have found themselves able to buy books and meals to not only solve the ‘summer slide’ but also to combat childhood hunger in their neighborhood. She was able to secure a $37,000 donation from United Way in 2017, and she and her friends immediately got to work on making this concept come to life.
Sapulpa Public High School teacher, Jeremy Lusk, has spent a good amount of time riding around on this bus, commenting on the excitement of the children being “almost like it was an ice cream truck.” Kids should be this excited to read, and I am so happy that communities and companies are finding their own way to make this a reality. On his participation, Lusk added:
I heard that they were doing this, and being a reading teacher, I said I’d help in any way I can just because I love the idea.
What do you all think about Sapulpa’s solution to this problem? Would you like to see something similar in your community?
As kids, summer reading may have been the most dreaded thing on our minds as the final school days of June ticked by and thoughts of swimming and sleeping until noon filled our heads. Well, for those of us who weren’t absolute bookworms anyway. No matter how many times a teacher or parent told us it was important, we didn’t want to do it. I’m sure more than half of us didn’t even pick up one of those assigned books until the last weeks of August when it became a race to get it done before the first day back.
So what is the point of Summer Reading? Well, it helps prevent what is known as the “summer slide.” The summer slide is the phenomenon where kids’ reading ability worsens over a summer of no reading. Reading levels drop, and reading comprehension becomes more difficult upon returning to class. Assigned reading over the summer months was just one of the many ways schools and teachers have tried to combat this slide in literacy, but there are more interesting approaches like that of Scholastic.
Like many teachers and parents, Scholastic knows that summer reading can be a challenge but a very important challenge to keeping literacy rates high. Scholastic is a popular children’s book publisher, popular for more than just the publication of the Harry Potter series, which makes it unsurprising that they have a plan to inspire children across the United States to get reading this summer. For their thirteenth year running, Scholastic is hosting Read-a-Palooza, helping kids track not just books read but the minutes spent reading. This, unlike many reading challenges, isn’t a competition to see who can read the most books, which can discourage the slower readers in the bunch. All that matters is how much time a kid spends reading this summer!
According to the homepage for Read-a-Palooza, “77% of kids ages 6-17 and 94% of parents believe reading books over the summer helps kids during the school year.” For Read-a-Palooza, kids can unlock digital rewards for tracking their minutes spent reading, and they can help unlock a very large book donation for communities and children in need across the United States. Students can even help land their school in the 2019 Scholastic Book of World Records. There is no shortage of incentives to get kids reading!
One super important point to make is that there are no requirements as to what kids are reading. Graphic novels? Great! Fantasy? Excellent! As long as they’re reading, it counts. Kids have until September 6th to input their minutes on the Scholastic website.