three-year span, students who participated in a summer-reading
program performed better on standardized reading tests than
students who did not take part in summer-reading programs.
However, improving test scores is not the primary goal for
CCPS. “Our two main goals are, first, that students belong to
a community of readers who value lifelong reading habits and,
second, that they participate in the summer-reading plan to
establish those lifelong reading habits and literacy skills,”
Donovan says. Preventing the achievement gap among students
falls in line with this strategy. “If you can close the gap at the
emergent-reading stage, you are not constantly playing catchup,” she adds.
Each of the 61 schools in Donovan’s district was challenged
to design its own plan, including an individual theme, to
“implement, sustain, communicate, and celebrate summer
reading” and best meet the needs of its community. “We brought
in literacy specialists and specially trained librarians and
teachers to help schools create a tool kit of ideas to use, too,”
Donovan says. Proposals were submitted to Donovan’s office,
and each school was given $1,500 in aid from the Chief
Academic Office to get its plan off the ground. Some schools
are allotting the money to keep the school library open for
certain hours over the summer (and pay the librarian); others
are purchasing additional books or materials.
In continued partnership with CCPS, the nine branches of
the Chesterfield County Public Library will offer expanded
programming that highlights different themes of summer
learning with some connection to STEAM, e.g. astronomy,
On a broader scale, the North Carolina Department of Public
Instruction, which is part of the State Board of Education,
launched a statewide effort in 2013 called Give Five Read Five.
The brainchild of state superintendent June Atkinson, the
initiative was designed to help local districts reduce summer
learning loss. Each year, parents and community and business
leaders are asked to donate five new or gently used children’s
books to their elementary schools so that students can have five
books to take home over the summer and keep. The program
hinges on the number five because a Harvard research study
showed that reading that many books helps students better
retain their skills during summer break.
In its first year, 74 schools collected more than 123,000
books, and in 2015, more than 276 participating schools and
other community groups collected and distributed almost
547,000 books. Various national and North Carolina companies and organizations also partner on the Give Five Take Five
project, including Myon, a division of Capstone, and Book
Harvest, a nonprofit that provides books to low-income children
in central North Carolina and runs its own Books on Break
program, which provides a new string backpack and 10 books
(selected by recipients) to elementary students who are on free
or reduced lunch.
This year, the new partnership with Myon is enabling the N.C.
Department of Public Instruction to offer every student in the
state summertime access to Myon Reader, the company’s personalized electronic literacy tool. The top four schools collecting
the most books for Give Five Take Five in 2016 (by June 17) will
win a free one-year school-wide license to online literacy tools
provided by Myon, Achieve3000, and Reading Horizons.
Chesterfield Schools families at a Night at the Library event
shers Tackle the Summer Slide