Reading well at a young age is the most important building block for later success in school and life. Reading is especially important during the summer when children are out of school. When children engage with books throughout the summer, they sharpen their newly acquired reading skills and stay on track academically. Instead of falling behind, they return to school in the fall ready to continue learning.
But not all of Greenville County’s children have the same opportunities to practice reading during the summer. While most of Greenville’s more affluent children have well-stocked libraries at home and access to learning opportunities throughout the summer, their underserved peers often don’t have access to such resources and opportunities. Some don’t even have books at all.
As a result, these children lose critical reading skills during the summer months – and it has a lasting effect on their academic development. According to peer-reviewed research, summer reading loss is responsible for 80% of the achievement gap between middle-class and low-income children.*
To address this need, Public Education Partners created Make Summer Count. This summer program helps close the gap by giving children and families the resources they need to be able to read all summer long.
Make Summer Count consists of two targeted, research-based opportunities for literacy engagement: free book fairs, which help kids build home libraries, and Family Reading Nights, designed to help families take an active role in their children’s learning.
Free Book Fairs
Throughout the month of May, we provide thousands of brand new, high-interest, age-appropriate books to 29 high-need elementary schools in Greenville County.
Each child in participating schools is invited to select 11 free books on their reading level that look interesting to them. By allowing children to select their own books, we invite them to become participants in their own learning, which builds their excitement and encourages them to read the books they pick out.
Family Reading Nights
During June and July, Family Reading Nights are held in up to 29 of Greenville’s high-need elementary schools. At each event, families are divided into their child’s age group, where trained volunteers lead interactive read aloud sessions. For the parents in attendance, the volunteers model useful strategies for reading aloud with their children. These strategies focus on increasing parents’ confidence and capacity to support year-round reading in their home. At the end of the event, each family takes home a copy of the read-aloud book and children select free, high-interest, age-appropriate books to add to their home library.
The goal of Family Reading Nights is for families to observe and learn literacy strategies they can use at home with their children. By taking an active role in their child’s reading, parents can have an immense impact on their child’s future success, helping them become stronger readers and instilling in them a lifelong love for learning.
*Hayes, D. P., & Grether, J. (1983). The school year and vacations: When do students learn? Cornell Journal of Social Relations, 17(1), 56-71.