State Superintendent June Atkinson wants every elementary school student in the state to begin summer vacation with at least five new books to read, and today she launched a statewide initiative to make that happen. Speaking during a press conference at Hilburn Academy, Atkinson challenged parents, business leaders and community members to donate five new or gently-used books to their local elementary school during the month of May.
“Too many students lose valuable literacy skills because they stop reading during their summer break, especially those children who go home to an environment where there are very few books or other reading resources,” Atkinson said. “Research done at Harvard has shown that students who read just five books over summer vacation have a better chance of holding on to these skills so our goal is to make sure all elementary students leave on the last day of school with books in their hands.”
As a part of the “Give Five – Read Five” campaign, the Department of Public Instruction staff have developed letters, fliers, summer reading tips sheets and other resources that parents, educators and others can use to help spread the word about the campaign. These tools are available at www.ncpublicschools.org/give5read5. The N.C. Business Committee for Education, Communities and Schools of N.C., the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church and MetaMetrics® also have agreed to help spread the word about the campaign and encourage members to donate books to this effort. Books will be collected and distributed at the school or district levels.
Dr. Malbert Smith, III, co-founder and president of MetaMetrics, announced at the press conference that his company has made the first “Give Five – Read Five” donation. Smith presented 300 books to Hilburn Academy Principal Gregory Ford. MetaMetrics developed the Lexile® Framework for Reading to assess both a student’s reading ability and the text difficulty in books, magazines and newspapers. In North Carolina, students in grades 3-8, as well as high school students taking the English I assessment, receive a Lexile measure on their end-of-grade or end-of-course test reports.
“We are excited to be a part of ‘Give Five – Read Five’ and encourage other organizations and individuals to donate books as well,” said Smith. “There is no greater gift that we can give our children than the gift of reading and this statewide campaign to get books into the hands of our students is an important step.”
Atkinson also plans to award the three schools that collect the most books with one-year subscriptions to online literacy programs from Achieve3000®, Capstone Digital and Scholastic.
“We are hopeful that people in our schools, workplaces, churches, neighborhoods and communities will step up and participate in this important campaign,” Atkinson said. “A simple donation of books could go a long way in helping our students to be better prepared for the future.”