As schools wrap up for the year, educators and parents’ focus turns to ensuring children stay engaged with reading over the summer months. To ensure more students have access to books and reading activities the Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge kicked off today with an updated focus on increasing summer reading activities and improved literacy outcomes for all students.
Speaking at a news conference at the Connecticut State Library, CEA Vice President Joslyn DeLancey said that students need to know it’s okay for them to access reading in whatever way is most comfortable—whether that means an audiobook, listening to a story read by a parent or a friend, or reading a graphic novel or a book in a different language.
“It’s okay to meet a book where you are,” she said, directing her comments to students. “Some of us might not like reading big chapter books. Maybe it’s a picture book, maybe it’s a graphic novel, maybe it’s a biography or history, but I know that that book for you is out there.”
In previous years, the reading challenge emphasized the number of books a child reads while the re-envisioned program emphasizes participating in any kind of reading activity over the summer months to ensure all students, regardless of native language, reading level, and learning ability, are encouraged to participate and read.
The updated program focuses on partnerships to facilitate unique reading activities, including a pilot program to bring reading ambassadors to barbershops, parks, pediatricians’ offices, laundromats, and other areas where children and families have time to read, and StoryWalks at Connecticut State Parks and Forests.
“Partnerships between schools and libraries are essential to providing students with access to a diverse range of books, resources, and programs that can help them thrive both academically and personally,” said Governor Ned Lamont.
President of the Connecticut Association of School Librarians Jenny Lussier, a school librarian in Region 13, said that diverse reading activities like those being offered through this year’s challenge are essential to getting children hooked on reading. “We never know what will turn a child on to reading, keep them reading, or bring them back to reading.”
StoryWalks are already available to families at Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill and Osbornedale State Park in Derby and will be coming soon to Goodwin State Forest in Hampton and Hammonasset State Park in Madison.
“Our new Connecticut State Park StoryWalks, part of our No Child Left Inside initiative, invite children and their caregivers to enjoy the fresh air while going on their own outdoor reading adventure,” said Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Commissioner Katie Dyke. “The best part is that our StoryWalks will encourage year-round outdoor reading experiences as different books are chosen each season. We are delighted for this statewide partnership and opportunity to encourage more family time in our State Parks.”
This and next year’s summer reading challenge are being supported by an investment of $370,000 in funding Connecticut received from the American Rescue Plan Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund. Find out more about the program.