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HANCOCK COUNTY — The Indiana Department of Education has teamed with Indiana’s Hoosier Family of Readers summer reading initiative to encourage students and their families to read more during summer break.

Through the initiative, students and their families throughout the state will have unlimited access to reading material through DOE’s partnership with MyON. MyON is a reading program that matches student interests and reading level with content to personalize learning and predict future reading growth.

The DOE has provided families with 3,000 free books, available online through the DOE’s website, as part of the initiative.

Teachers applaud the DOE’s summer reading philosophy and also encourage kids to crack books while away from school.

Katie Nicholson, first-grade teacher at Sugar Creek Elementary, said she strongly encourages summer reading, particularly for beginning readers.

“We send home a summer activity packet with each student,” she said.

In the packets, students are encouraged to read each day, along with completing other work.

“If they return it at the beginning of their second year, we will have an after-school party for those students,” Nicholson said.

She even wrapped up the year by giving a book to each student.

Reading over break helps fill the gap for readers of all ages. Doe Creek Middle School English teacher Fred Fox describes summer as the perfect time for students in their early teen years to explore all different types and genres of literature.

“This is when you can really see their personalities emerge in their reading,” Fox said.

New Palestine High School English teacher Caroline Clayton not only strongly encourages her students to read, she practices what she preaches.

“I’ve built a special reading spot in my garden,” she said.

While she reads every day over the course of the school year, she said summertime is the perfect time for students to indulge in reading and get immersed in a good book.

Not only does reading keep a student’s brain active, she said, but reading also helps give students access to a wider world.

“It opens their horizons,” she said. “It gives them fresh and new ideas about their lives and where they might go and what they might do as they get older.”

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