Millionaire Club Spotlight: What Are You Reading This Summer?

HISD’s Millionaire Club is a literacy initiative designed to encourage students to read for pleasure during the summer months. Each week, we’ll catch up with one HISD librarian to find out what’s on his or her reading list. This week, we spoke with Jo Reed, the librarian at Scroggins Elementary School.

What are you reading right now? What attracted you to those selections?
I have just finished reading “The Storyteller” by Jodi Picoult. I chose that book because I wanted to participate in a book club that the author was hosting on Twitter. I am currently reading “Divergent,” a young-adult novel that I am recommending to my friends and past students who liked the Hunger Games series. In my car, I’m listening to “The Fault in Our Stars.” Next on my list is “The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp,” a Name That Book selection by Kathi Appelt, an author whom my students enjoy.

I get great recommendations for reading from the HISD Name That Book lists, the Texas Bluebonnet List, the Texas 2×2 list, and websites such as and the American Library Association at I also use my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter for recommendations.

What is your campus doing this year to promote summer reading among students?
For the first summer ever, Scroggins is coordinating a “one school, one book” program. Before summer vacation, our school had a summer reading kickoff led by a group of Scroggins students who already loved the Lunch Lady graphic-novel series. The children, wearing aprons and cooking gloves, told the other students why they love the series. Then, we told the Scroggins students about our summer reading club. Just like on “Oprah,” we revealed that every student would receiving their very own copies of “Lunch Lady” and the “Cyborg Substitute” as they left the kickoff. The children went wild. It was a happy, exciting morning because it was apparent that the children were so excited about reading and that they would have a much better chance of avoiding the academic summer slide. Teachers even had to ask some of the eager readers to close their books because the children reading in the hall had created a traffic jam in the Scroggins hallways. We also promote the Houston Public Library Summer Reading Program and the HISD Millionaire Summer Reading Club with brochures, our marquee, and letters that went home with the Lunch Lady books.

What’s one thing parents can do this summer to encourage their kids to read?
If parents would like their children to try something new regarding summer reading for their families this summer, they could try different genres in a variety of formats such as e-books, audio books, and traditional print books. Graphic novels are my go-to books for “hooking” reluctant readers and helping ESL students to bridge language gaps. I also recommend audio books as excellent tools for helping children enjoy books that may be above their reading levels but not above their listening comprehension levels. Families can listen to audio books as they travel. The stories can lead to great discussions while developing a love for books and building vocabularies and reading comprehension.

Summer reading is so important. Children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slide backward. According to the Reading is Fundamental website, “A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year…. It’s common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills.” In addition, the report says, “Students from low-income families … experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of over two months.” Not only do these students suffer greater sliding during the summer, they also experience cumulative effects of greater learning loss each summer.

These are some websites that can help parents help their children find quality books that they will enjoy: