Reading Program Aims to Motivate Students

Thousands of books are expected to be read by elementary students this summer, thanks in large part to Bartlesville Education Promise.

The nonprofit recently announced its first-ever Elementary Summer Reading Partners Program, a new service intended to inspire students to keep the book pages turning when school is out.

Some of the best reading teachers in Bartlesville’s school district are lined up as instructors for the program, which starts next month. BEP’s first-year goal is to have 500 students read at least one book each this summer.

“Research indicates that continuing to read in the summer helps students avoid regression that can occur when they don’t read,” said Dianne Martinez, executive director of the district’s elementary and middle schools. “This is truly a collaborative effort designed to motivate and inspire students to continue reading this summer.”

The sessions will be held at Hoover Elementary, Woodrow Wilson Elementary, Jane Phillips Elementary, Bartlesville Boys & Girls Club, and the Bartlesville Public Library. The program is made possible through funding from Bartlesville Education Promise and the Bartlesville Community Foundation, according to BEP chairman Martin Garber.

“The idea was actually the brain child of our board member Vanessa Drummond. I saw the announcement of a Bartlesville Community Foundation Flash Grant for $5,000 that was being offered, and I sent the announcement to our board of directors for ideas. Vanessa came back with the idea of a reading program,” said Garber.

Indeed, Drummond was excited to hear about the Flash Grant and the possibility of using it to encourage reading and academic success.

“I thought about what could help make reading fun for kids over the summer. I love book groups for both adults and kids, because it helps make a fairly solitary activity a social one,” said Drummond.

Garber said that BEP has a special interest in helping to improve the reading outcomes for students in the third grade.

“Knowing we have a reading problem with third-graders, we decided to try and continue a program to promote reading throughout the summer,” said Garber, adding the program is open to all students.

By observing students reading at least one book this summer, teachers will have a better assessment of how the student will do in the third grade and allow BEP to provide added assistance once school starts next fall, Garber explained.

“Our teachers will be utilizing books from our partners, the school libraries, and we are purchasing a limited number of books that teachers will have to recommend to students,” he said.

Drummond added that it’s great to have some positive peer pressure around finishing and discussing a book.

“I hope the summer reading program will encourage kids to keep their reading skills up over the break and help develop a lifetime love of reading a good book,” she said.

According to Garber, this is the third year BEP has provided books to all six elementary schools in Bartlesville and the organization has provided about $3,000 in grants to provide books to several at-risk students who don’t have books at home.

“We also had a partnership with Friends of the Library, where they provided our elementary schools thousands of books that are elementary-appropriate,” said Garber.

For additional information about the Summer Reading Partners Program, including the schedules for each school, contact Therese Rawlinson, rawlinsontd@bps-ok.org or Kirby Lowry, lowrykm@bps-ok.org.

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