Daily Reporter Staff Writer
HANCOCK COUNTY — Looking to boost the number of students reading during the summer, the Indiana Department of Education launched its third Hoosier Family of Readers summer literacy initiative this week.
The DOE has partnered with MyON Reader, an interactive digital library, to give students free online access to thousands of books.
When school lets out, many students in Hancock County stop reading as frequently as they did in the classroom, local school and library officials said.
Greenfield Intermediate School Principal Jim Bever guessed that more than 50 percent of his students do not read during the summer, something he said makes an obvious impact on learning when they return to school.
“We absolutely have issues with a summer slide,” he said. “It’s not unusual for some students to have issues when returning to school. If students don’t read, many of their skills can lose sharpness.”
Beaver said not reading in the summer can lead to students losing ground in the fall, and that those who read regularly retain more skill and return to school ready to continue their growth.
He added that students are encouraged to read during the summer by way of several summer reading programs including the DOE-sponsored initiative.
Any program that provides families with easy access to literature has the Hancock County Public Library’s support, said youth services manager Cathy Riley.
Riley said that the library, in addition to their own summer reading club, has several computers available for students to log on and read any of the 4,500 books available through the DOE program.
Those 16 computers have filtered online access and are available to all children, even without a library card.
“I think any chance to reinforce that reading throughout the summer is important is wonderful,” Riley said. “We want to generate enthusiasm for reading in any way possible.”
Since the program’s inception in 2013, students have read more than 139,000 books, a news release states.
Children below the poverty level suffer the most over the summer because their access to books is limited when not in school, said Eastern Hancock Elementary School literacy coach Jessica Neill.
The school promotes reading over the summer, noting that reading just 20 minutes a day can make a huge impact for students returning from summer break, Neill said.
“We’re always encouraging kids to read,” Neill said. “Anything that anyone does to stimulate thinking over the break is good for everyone involved.”