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July 29, 2015

Read where you are

In my house, summer is the season of reading. Life slows down, kids are out of school, and there are lots of extra hours to spend reading. After all, what better way to spend a sunny afternoon than curled up with your kids and a book that they’re excited about reading?  (Other than having a bowl of fresh local strawberries to enjoy while you read!)

One thing I particularly love about summer reading is watching kids take charge of their reading list. During the school year, a lot of what they read is guided by teachers but over the summer they get to be in charge. My nine year old daughter Eva Pearl has been deep into the League of Seven books while my seven year old son Gabe has discovered the delights of Calvin and Hobbes.

At Reading Partners, we’re also thinking a lot about summer reading. Many of our students go home to households where English isn’t the primary language, or where there are few quality age- and skill-appropriate books for them to read. Studies have shown that unless they are nurtured with a literacy-rich environment over the summer, children will start school in the fall having lost substantial ground in reading skills.

Today I’m proud to celebrate #ReadWhereYouAre, a day of action to promote summer reading and to encourage all of us to stop, take a few minutes, and read with a young person. Read Where You Are is a joint effort of the White House, the US Department of Education, and the My Brothers Keeper Alliance.

As part of its 2018 strategic plan, Reading Partners will explore new program delivery models in order to effectively narrow the achievement gap. Two areas with opportunity for us to do more include family engagement and access to resources during the summer months – both ways to ensure that children can #ReadWhereYouAre.

This June and July Reading Partners piloted a summer program in Tulsa and Oakland where over 240 students received regular biweekly tutoring support. A particularly exciting component of this model was the creation of our “summer book club”, which distributed 1800 brand new books to these students and provided trainings and workshops to families on how to use most effectively use these materials when reading with their children. Analysis and formal results for these programs will be available in the months ahead.

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As an organization, we’re seeking new ways to promote reading outside of school hours, but at the very least, we can serve as individual role models. Whether it’s reading to your own children, a sibling, a friend or a student, let’s all take a moment today to celebrate and promote the power of reading. Use #ReadWhereYouAre on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and invite others to be a part of this day of action.

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