Schools, libraries encourage summer reading

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reading isn’t just for the classroom — at least not if students want to keep up in a district that will focus primarily on literacy for the next three years.
That’s why the Rowan-Salisbury School System has offered opportunities for students across the district to participate in literacy activities throughout the summer.
“Our goal as a media department was to make reading fun,” said Kelly Feimster, Rowan-Salisbury director of instructional programs.
Students are encouraged to read at least 20 minutes a day. If they do, they’ll read approximately 1.8 million words a year and learn roughly 1,000 new vocabulary words, she said. District leaders launched a summer reading program that allows and encourages students to connect with other students and share what they’re reading.
“We decided to take a different spin on it,” Feimster said.
In the past, students have filled out an online form to track summer reading, but this year, they’re using a program called BiblioNaseum, Feimster said. She explained that students can use the program to connect with friends and see what they’re reading, and parents can search for age-appropriate books. “It was safe, it was free and it was new,” Feimster said.
Students can access BiblioNaseum through a new website designed for summer reading. In addition to BiblioNaseum, the website has a number of online resources with free ebooks, a reading blog, tips for parents and a photo gallery of student-submitted reading photos.
Students also are encouraged to share their reading experiences via Twitter, using the hashtag #RSSReads.
Feimster said some schools, including Morgan, Faith, Bostian, Mt. Ulla, Granite-Quarry, Shive, Isenberg and Millbridge elementary opened their libraries periodically throughout the summer to allow students to check out books.
For the first time, the district is hosting Read to Achieve camps, where rising fourth-graders who were unable to satisfy the reading requirements during the school year are given intense literacy instruction.
In addition, the district’s English as a second language camps were also focused on literacy.
The school system isn’t the only place with programs encouraging children to read. Libraries are also stepping up to the plate, with programs throughout the summer. Teens attended weekly events between mid-June and the end of July where they investigated a crime scene, played Jeopardy! and made ice sculptures.
Throughout the week, they were encouraged to track how many hours they read. Based on those numbers, they will be able to earn prizes at the end of July.
“We encourage kids of all ages to track their hours,” said Melissa Oleen, Rowan Public Library youth services supervisor.
Younger kids also track their reading hours, and enjoy weekly performances from professional performers. “It’s pretty common that during the summer, that kids tend not to read,” Oleen said.
But reading is important, she said, adding that reading helps strengthen the thinking process in children — especially younger ones who are just learning to read.