Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hooked on Books; Summer Reading Program in 10th Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hooked on Books; Summer Reading Program in 10th Year

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey, County Line staff writer

Adam Dougherty loves books.

The best ones, he said, are "good books and funny books."

His latest stack includes Nova's Ark, Miss Rumphries, Froggy Plays in the Band and There's a Party at Mona's Tonight. Adam is only 6 years old and needs help from his parents and siblings to read them, but he still loves books.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah!" he said. "It's really good for our brain that we read a lot."

Adam enters first grade at Montclair Elementary in August and is honing his reading skills this summer by participating in the school's summer reading program. This year, the 10-year-old initiative is called "Celebrating with Books."

Before the school year ended, students signed up for the six-week program and received reading-related assignments to do at home. If possible, they come to the Montclair library once a week during the summer to check out books and participate in special activities.

If they meet certain reading goals, they get a bronze, silver or gold medal during a ceremony before the student body in September. Gold medal winners read 1,200 pages over the summer.

The program was created 10 years ago by Montclair parent Patrice Jones, who was concerned that many students were not reading during their summer school breaks. Betsy Sherk, another Montclair parent who now coordinates the program with Jones, said this year 212 students are participating.

"That's pretty good, considering we're a school of 500," she said.

For an hour on Tuesdays, 40 to 60 kids come to the school library, where volunteers register their reading progress. The students hear a guest reader and check out more books.

"We're averaging 11,000 pages [read] per week for the past three weeks," Sherk said.

And that's just from the kids who come to the weekly program sessions. The amount of pages read by the 80 or 90 children who are participating at home will not be known until mid-August. Also participating are Montclair teachers, parents, school staff and Clay County school district officials.

Sherk said she hopes other Clay schools will adopt the program -- a few administrators are trying it out on their own -- but there are requirements for it to be successful. …

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