Throughout the past month, students from the Sulphur Springs Union School District spent their weekdays at the Canyon Country Jo Anne Darcy Library, reading books and taking comprehension tests.
The month-long Accelerated Reading (AR) partnership, from June 26 to July 31, brought together students, parents, librarians and district staff to keep students motivated and learning during summer break.
“The excitement that they show in the reading of their books is really motivating,” said Kathy Harrison, the district’s assistant superintendent of instructional services. “All we want to do is continue to promote the love of reading.”
Currently in its fourth year, the AR program provides individualized reading goals and books for each student based on their own reading level.
“The summer AR reading goals are set by last year’s teacher who knows them,” Harrison said. “The teacher helps them identify the books they should be reading.”
To facilitate the AR program, district personnel spend their weekdays at the Canyon Country Library to help students find AR books and take online AR tests on district iPads or library computers.
“During the day we have one of our classified staff work with students and families at the library to help with the AR books and district iPads,” said Kim Tredick, the district’s director of curriculum and instruction.
Students who reach their summer AR goals are then recognized in the fall at their school assemblies.
Last year, 979 students from all nine schools participated in the program and 674 meet their goals, according to Tredick. The district expects that even more students participated and hit their goals this year.
“They’re here Monday through Friday and right before it starts you see the families pack in the children’s area to take the tests,” said Angie Ashe, a children’s librarian at the Canyon Country Library. “It’s great to get them all in here and help them find books.”
Harrison said the library was instrumental in identifying AR reading levels, helping parents find books and supporting students as they take AR tests.
“It’s been fantastic, we love doing it,” Ashe said. “This year is we added a small AR shelf where employees put books in AR order with little bookmarks sticking out to help them find what level books are. That’s been a really big help this year.”
As an added bonus, students who participate in the AR program can also take part in the Canyon Country Summer Reading Program, which provide students with prizes when they finish reading a book.
“It definitely helps us with our own summer reading program going on at the same time,” Ashe said. “Students can do both for our summer reading program to get prizes… It’s fun to see their faces light up when we tell them that.”
Both Harrison and Ashe hope the program can continue in the future in order to build a lifelong love of reading and a relationship with one of the city’s libraries.
“It models for the students how important reading is and that reading isn’t just part of schools, it’s part of life,” Harrison said.
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_