Summer reading programs do more to keep the pages turning
July 31, 2012

Many North Carolina students will not go back to school for another few weeks, but until then, parents, teachers and programs across the state are going above and beyond to keep young people engaged in reading.

Research shows that children who do not read over their summer breaks lose as much as three months of reading progress. Students without access to books or whose parents are unable to read to them suffer the most. Thousands of these vulnerable students will miss out on valuable literacy instruction during the summer, putting them at a disadvantage when school starts up again. That is why it is important to recognize local school leaders and educators that are answering the challenge to make sure North Carolina's children keep the pages turning this summer.

Earlier this month, I visited H.C. Bellamy Elementary in Wilmington to learn about the school's summer reading program led by Media Specialist Karen Sherman. Every Wednesday during summer break, Bellamy opens its doors to students and parents for snacks, reading and activities. I was blown away by the enthusiasm that these students showed for reading and literacy. They all demonstrated a true love of books and reading.

In Guilford County Schools, students are working toward an ambitious goal: reading three million books by the end of this year. Last year, Superintendent Maurice Green challenged students to read two million books, and they responded by reading 2,616,138. This year, Guilford County Schools has set the bar even higher. I know that they will succeed at reaching this goal and improving literacy throughout their district.

Finally, Buncombe County Schools (BCS) is preparing to launch a literacy initiative on August 1 with its new bookmobile. BCS worked with a number of community partners to fund and furnish the bookmobile, which will deliver books to disadvantaged children in the district. This collaboration between schools and the community is one innovative way we can use to approach the challenge of giving all students more opportunities to read.

Reading is the most essential skill a child needs to be successful in college and a career. It is vital that we do all that we can to keep kids reading year-round. I applaud the teachers, administrators, parents and community members who are doing their part to help students read more this summer. I hope that we can continue to build upon the momentum and accomplishments of these programs and others as we move into the new school year.




June St. Clair Atkinson
State Superintendent