Baltimore County schools promote summer reading
Wednesday, 18 June 2014 13:58

Students at Charlesmont Elementary School gathered last Monday as the school kicked-off the My Books Summer Reading Program.
photo by Roland Dorsey

Students receive five free books to take home

by Nicole Rodman

    Summer vacation — a time for sun, fun and ... reading?
     In an effort to keep students’ minds sharp over the summer break, Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) is providing free books to elementary and middle school students at 48 Title I schools across the county.
    Title I is a grant program designed to provide extra funds and resources to economically disadvantaged schools.
    In Dundalk, Title I schools include Battle Grove, Bear Creek, Berkshire, Charlesmont, Colgate, Dundalk, Logan and Sandy Plains elementary schools, Norwood STEM Program and Dundalk Middle School.
    Sponsored by the BCPS Office of Title I, the My Books Summer Reading Program seeks to promote summer reading by providing students with five free books.
    At kick-off events at Title I schools across the county, each student received a drawstring bag containing five self-selected books, as well as a summer reading journal and information on reading activities parents can do with their children.
    The pack also contained instructions on how to access the Track-It website.
    On Track-It, students or their parents can log in and keep track of how many minutes students have read each day.
    Paper logs are also available to keep track of reading minutes.
    Students who track their minutes are eligible to win prizes from both the school system as well as their own school.
    By providing books to students who may not have access to many books, school officials are hoping to promote reading in the home and prevent summer learning loss — often known as the “summer slide.”
    “Research has shown that as much as 85 percent of the achievement gap between students from low-income and high-income families can be attributed to the loss of reading skills during the summer,” a BCPS press release noted.
    As Logan Elementary reading specialist Nicole Poturalski  explained, the aim of the My Books program is to limit that loss and keep students learning all summer long.
    “We just want to keep that growth up over the summer,” she said.
    At Logan last Tuesday, approximately 75 students and their parents attended the My Books kick-off celebration at the school.
    Reflecting the pirate theme that Logan has chosen for this year’s program, the event featured pirate-themed photo booths, refreshments and a reading by guest reader Del. John Olszewski Jr.
    Representatives of the Sollers Point Branch of  Baltimore County Public Library (BCPL) were also on hand to register students for BCPL’s Summer Reading Club program.
    BCPL representatives were also on hand at Charlesmont Elementary last Monday for that school’s My Books kick-off.
    For the last few years, BCPL and BCPS have partnered to encourage students to read over the summer break.
    “BCPS is always such a wonderful partner!,” BCPL youth services specialist Elizabeth Rafferty explained. “The library media specialists allowed us to come to their professional development meetings to introduce summer reading, and they promote the program with all the students in the school libraries before school ends for the year.”
    Both BCPS and BCPL hope that their summer reading programs will encourage families to make reading a key part of their summer plans.