Summer is right around the corner and that means no more pencils, no more books, no more … but wait, there will be books. For students at Helen Haller Elementary School, the books will be ones they want to read, not textbooks.
Thanks to the Helen Haller PTO, Thrivent Financial and 1st Security Bank, each child from kindergarten through fifth grade will be given a bag of six books to enjoy during the summer break. Best part: The students were able to choose the books of their liking and even better, keep the books they chose.
“The goal is to inspire students to read over the summer and build their home libraries,” explained Sheri Kruckeberg, Helen Haller teacher-librarian.
Kruckeberg called the Six Books project “kind of my baby.” She worked with the PTO to get the funding to buy the books and hopes to make this a sustainable program year after year. But, she added, “this depends on funding, of course.”
Good news is, Six Books already is funded through the 2017-2018 school year.
Reading is perhaps the most essential skill a child can learn. Learning to read is a sequential process; each new skill builds on the mastery of previously learned skills. According to the National Education Association, children who don’t read during the summer can lose up to three months of reading progress and that loss has a cumulative, long-term effect.
Kruckeberg said one of the goals of the Six Books program is to prevent the academic skills slide which commonly takes place over the summer months.
But rather than assign books for students to read during the summer, programs such as Six Books for Summer encourage reading for fun, to offer books they can’t put down.
That’s exactly what Kruckeberg and the PTO were aiming for when they considered how to motivate children to read during summer vacation.
Based on the books and authors the students read throughout the year, Kruckeberg and her staff compiled lists of 20 books for each grade level. Students then looked through the titles and filled out their order form. With more than 600 students attending Helen Haller, six books each, that’s more than 3,600 books that needed to be sorted and packaged. What to do? Send out a call for volunteers.
Last week, teachers, students, PTO members and other community volunteers gathered in the Helen Haller cafeteria, where stacks of books waited to be packaged for the students. In no time at all, plastic bags filled with books and a reading log, were stuffed and ready for the reading to begin.
The books, Kruckeberg said, were handed out during the Cougar Reading and Writing Conference week, June 6-9.
“Students who complete and return the log will get a small prize,” she added.
When students finish a book, he or she can either keep the book or trade with classmates. It’s a win-win program, that’s for sure.
Almost makes you want to be a kid again, right?
Happy summer reading, Helen Haller students — and all Sequim students, for that matter.
Mary Powell is a Sequim resident and former editor of the Sequim Gazette.