Summer Reading Program an opportunity to hone literacy skills, spark imagination

The Houston Independent School District is challenging students to use the power of reading combined with the power of their imagination to go on an unforgettable journey through the district’s Summer Reading Program.

HISD is teaming up with the Houston Public Library and myON, a digital library where students can access more than 5,000 free books, to launch the initiative, which challenges students to read a minimum of five books during the summer. The program also encourages parents and students to spend time reading aloud together — even if it’s just a few minutes each day.

Liz Philippi, manager of HISD’s Library Media Services, says vacation reading helps boost student learning and knowledge, while helping students develop a love for reading.

”It’s been proven through research, experience and time that students lose at least three months of learning during the summer if they don’t engage in reading over the summer break,” said Philippi, who encouraged parents to read with their children. “Talk to your children about what they’re reading and share your opinions. Then start a conversation. That’s the key to deep comprehension and logical reading.”

Students who sign up will receive a myON log-in before the end of the school year. By entering their school name, user name, and password at www.myON.com/login, they’ll have access to thousands of books and the chance to win prizes for reading them.

Students who use myON to read at least ten books between May 15 and Sept. 4 will be automatically entered in a drawing to win an iPad mini tablet. In addition, two students (one elementary, one secondary) who read the most minutes nationally will each win an iPad mini, and 10 runners-up in each group will receive $50 gift cards.

Many schools throughout the district are already getting a head start on summer learning and reading. Among them is Scroggins Elementary School, which recently launched the writing program, iWRITE, for second- through fifth-grade students.

As part of the program, Scroggins students are given journals and undergo impromptu, “drop-everything-and-write” sessions twice a week. After school is out, they get to take the journals home for the summer.

“The goal is to provide a useful tool for educators so they can help students create a positive association to writing while giving the students a therapeutic writing outlet that they can continue using in the summer,” said Scroggins Elementary School Librarian and Teacher Jo Reed. “As with reading, writing gets better with practice. So, we expect this program and our summer reading programs to provide our students with enough motivation and encouragement to read and write throughout the entire summer.”

Philippi believes the power of reading can not only help students keep their minds energized during the summer, but also ensure students coming back to school in the fall can pick up right where they left off.

“Reading makes you curious and exercises your mind, which is similar to exercising your body when playing sports or other fun activities,” she said. “You have to keep on flexing and stretching to stay energized.”

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