Above, students at El Sereno Middle School show off their love of reading and learning. The Summer Reading Challenge encourages all students to read at least 100 minutes a week during summer break.
“What are you doing over summer vacation?”
If that question is posed to an L.A. Unified student, Superintendent Michelle King hopes the answer will be, “I’m going to read!”
King is spearheading the district’s Summer Reading Challenge, encouraging students to read at least 100 minutes a week over their summer break. The challenge includes a special log for students to record the books they read and the school they attend. By submitting their completed logs – each page has room for 20 books – students nominate their school for the chance to receive a $10,000 campus library makeover and a visit from a published author.
“I remember reading the ‘Madeline’ books as a girl, and how I was enthralled by her adventures and her bravery,” King said. “I want our students to have the same experience of learning about other people and other worlds and the opportunities that await them.”
The District is partnering with the Los Angeles Public Library (LAPL), which has compiled a list of dozens of books recommended for readers at all skill levels – from preschool to high school. By using their Student Success Library Card, kids can check out as many as three books at a time, and they will not be charged late fees if the books are overdue.
The Summer Reading Challenge is designed to prevent the “brain drain” that can take place without the learning opportunities that students get during the school year. Reading about other people, different cultures and new ideas can spark their imagination while helping to improve vocabulary and reading comprehension skills.
“The library is a great place for the whole family, with resources that everyone can enjoy,” King said. “And we know that summer reading helps students maintain and even improve their reading skills so they can hit the ground running when school resumes in the fall.”
Students don’t have to select books from the LAPL list in order to participate in the L.A. Unified Challenge. In fact, the District has compiled a host of resources for students and families looking for reading recommendations. What’s important, officials say, is to make reading fun.
Chief Academic Officer Frances Gipson recalled summer as the time when she could tackle books that were longer and more difficult than those she read during the school year.
“I would grab my green banana-seat bike and speed toward the library,” she said. “I came to learn that Ms. Boggess was right – that words are magical. I can still remember the summer I read my biggest book ever – 1,037 pages. And I thought to myself, ‘I did it!’”
The Summer Reading Challenge is open to students enrolled in L.A. Unified schools. Submit completed logs by Aug. 31, to firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure to include the name of the student and the school they attend.