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How to get your child prepared for next year? Read

At Book Harvest's Books on Break event at Y.E. Smith Elementary School in May 2015, children select books to take home and keep, to help build home libraries and combat summer learning loss.
At Book Harvest's Books on Break event at Y.E. Smith Elementary School in May 2015, children select books to take home and keep, to help build home libraries and combat summer learning loss. Submitted

Q: How can I best help my child be prepared for the next school year?

A: Reading in the summer is absolutely vital for students of any grade level or reading ability. Studies show that learning loss during the summer months can be reduced or eliminated — the more our students read, the less they’ll fall behind at the start of the next school year.

Fortunately, Durham Public Schools has many partners supplying Durham County children with reading material and motivation.

Our friends at the Durham County Library kicked off their Summer Reading Program last Saturday at Northgate Mall, but it’s not too late to get involved. The program runs through Aug. 12 with the theme, “Build a Better World.” You and your child may register online at www.durhamcountylibrary.org/summerreading or in person at your local library branch. You and your child can track the amount of time spent reading, earning a point for every minute. The Durham County Library is offering prizes for every reading milestone, from lanyards to sports bags to ear buds to aluminum water bottles, and more.

Participating students can also read away their fines at the library through the Summer Fine Read Down, with one dollar in fines removed for every 10 minutes they read at the library. Finally, DPS will also be competing to see which schools have the most improved summer reading performance from last year to this year. The farthest-rising elementary, middle and high schools in the county will win classroom STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) kits for the next school year. This is a great goal for our students in every school to rally together around.

DPS is also supporting student reading directly with a free summer subscription to myON, an online resource with thousands of digital books aligned to elementary students’ personal reading level. myON will reward two students at the end of the summer who have spent the most time reading or demonstrate the highest improvement in reading proficiency. You can contact your elementary school’s principal or media coordinator for additional information, or for support contact the district’s director for digital learning, Ron Wahlen, at Ronald.Wahlen@dpsnc.net.

Our friends at the community nonprofit Book Harvest have also done incredible work to support our students as the summer approached. Their “Books on Break” initiative brought books to each of DPS’s 30 elementary schools, with seven of them — Eastway, Forest View, Glenn, Lakewood, Merrick-Moore, C.C. Spaulding and Y.E. Smith — having special events in which every child in the school received a new drawstring backpack preloaded with literacy tips and summer reading resources. The students then attended a special Books on Break event where they selected 10 free books to read over the summer and keep forever. You can find out more about Book Harvest’s work at bookharvestnc.org.

We hope you will read together as a family and help keep the joy and wonder of reading alive until the new school year begins. The Harvard Graduate School of Education says that reading independently or talking about books and stories at home may have even a greater influence on children’s academic growth than summer camps or vacations. This summer, please help make next year a great one for your child.

Do you have questions about Durham Public Schools? Please write William.sudderth@dpsnc.net and he will help you find the answers.

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