A new program through Kent District Library (KDL) promotes reading for students grades K-3. As a way to help and encourage reading throughout the early elementary school years, KDL’s Mission: Read inspires readers and gives parents and caregivers tips on how to encourage reading.
Third Grade Reading Standards
With the Read by Grade Three law effective in October 2016, the end of next school year is the scheduled first batch of third grade students who could be held back if reading standards are not met. “Mission: Read is an initiative of Partners in Reading Success, a collaboration between Grand Rapids Public Library, Kent District Library, Literacy Center of West Michigan and Kent ISD.” according to the KDL site. “The group was formed to help parents and their children understand and accomplish the new 3rd grade reading requirements. Their objectives include boosting children’s reading skills and love for reading, finding the right books for children and helping parents understand their child’s Individualized Reading Improvement Plan.”
Since the announcement of the new law, Lowell Area Schools (LAS) has had a focus on improving literacy for K-3 students. In May 2017 a county-wide millage was passed with a portion of what LAS receives going to literacy.
Making Reading Fun
Reading is an essential tool to learn. It’s something needed in multiple aspects throughout life. If learning to read and finding enjoyment when opening a book begins at a young age, it makes the process easier and more enjoyable for all involved.
Chris Straw is a Youth Paraprofessional / Information Specialist at the Lowell Englehardt branch, where she has worked for eight years. “We are encouraging the habit of daily reading through this program and also the 1,000 Books before Kindergarten program. When [students] get to 4th [grade] they will be reading to learn. That changes the whole ball game.” she says of the importance of encouraging younger children to find a love for reading. The 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program is the first step in encouraging reading. It is geared toward those birth through preschool. Mission: Read is the next program for young readers.
KDL’s webpage explaining the Mission: Read program provides tips on how to inspire young readers. The first is finding a good book. Those who sign up for the program are able to select books of interest whether they’re fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, poems, or magazines. Audio books are also good, especially if summer travel plans include long car rides. Readers are encouraged to re-read books they deem favorites. The goal of the program is to read every day. It’s as simple as that. There’s no tracking of book titles, minutes read, or even number of completed books.
The end goal for those who sign up for Mission: Read is to read for 1,000 days. While the program is meant to encourage younger students, the final goal must be reached by the time a student starts 6th grade. In doing the math, those who are currently in 3rd grade will be faced with having to read every day without any lapses, however because the program is new, there will be a little leeway into 6th grade for those who sign up. Current third grade students are able to sign up until the last day of school this calendar year.
The Englehardt branch currently has 41 participants signed up and all KDL branches have a total of 1,320 students learning to love reading. “We have information sheets that cover the 5 skill areas where kids may need more help.” says Shaw. “These sheets have book suggestions, activities and other information.” In the works are Booster Packs, which are similar to Go Packs but designed specifically for Mission: Read. Grade level packs will coincide with each of the five reading skill areas.
Upon enrolling in the free program, students will receive a reading log and solar system poster. For every day a book is read a circle can be filled in on the log. Those who sign up for the program and keep track of (hopefully) daily reading will be able to earn prizes on the way to reading 1,000 days. Every 100 days worth of reading earns a planet sticker which can be placed on the solar system poster. After 500 days, students can select a free book to keep. Upon completion of the 1,000 day mission students receive a tablet reader!
Reading for school can be counted toward this program – think accelerated reader books! When it’s summer and students sign up for the KDL summer reading program, reading can be counted toward both programs. Students who are in K-3 can sign up for Mission: Read at Englehardt, Alto, or any KDL branch. This is one of many programs for kids and adults offered through KDL.