Schools encourage summer reading to keep up proficiency


In an effort to keep students reading during the summer, two Catholic schools in the Diocese of Sioux City have developed summer reading programs.

For two years Sacred Heart School in Boone has been holding a summer reading program for students. It is like a summer camp and meets in the morning, explained Sue Eldridge, principal.

“Two teachers wanted to start it during the summer,” said Eldridge. “There are two different sessions that are each two weeks long – one in June and one in July. They plan activities based around literacy topics – academic and fun books the teachers knew of.”

At each of the sessions, the teachers try to have different material because some students attend both sessions.

Popular in all grades

The students are split by grade level and depending on the number of students. There have been about 50 students at each session. Most of the students are in kindergarten to fifth grade. The sixth graders helped with the program, Eldridge explained. Summer SchoolBoone2

“It has been pretty popular,” she said. “Each of the groups came together and did a play about one of the short stories or poems they had looked at. They try and do a presentation of some sort on the last day for the parents.”

Eldridge noted the program is to help keep the students reading over the summer and “give them a reason to be reading over the summer.”

The hope is to help with or to stop the “summer slide, where they lose some of their skills because they don’t do much reading,” she added.

“A lot of it was offering something the kids might enjoy as well as get a learning piece from,” said the principal. “The parents said they liked that the kids got to get together over the summer and that they were reading.”

The plan is to continue the program and possibly add math or STEM classes to the literacy topics. Eldridge thinks the program is going to continue to grow.

Keeping students reading

Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade at Mater Dei-Nativity Center in Sioux City participate in a middle school summer reading program.

According to Mary Fischer, the principal, the students are “assigned a book during the summer along with work associated with the book by the literature teacher.”

Becky Wolf, the middle school literature teacher, started the reading program nine years ago in order to encourage the middle school students to continue reading throughout the summer. Each grade level is assigned a book for summer reading:

  • Sixth grade is assigned “Sign of the Beaver” by Elizabeth George Speare.
  • Seventh grade is assigned “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred Taylor.
  • Eighth grade is assigned “Night” by Elie Wiesel.

“Students are given a copy of the book and work associated with its reading,” said Fischer. “They bring the book and the assigned work back the first day of school and can begin their literature work on day one.”

For example, since the eighth graders’ book is about the Holocaust, their first unit is focused on that topic and the students also read other books with the same topic including the “Diary of Anne Frank.”

Wolf goes into the classrooms at the end of the school year to explain the novel they will read and the activities the students are expected to bring back at the beginning of the school year.

Another part of the program is the students are expected to go into school at least once during the summer to take Accelerated Reader tests, and quizzes over any books they read, explained Fischer. There are three opportunities for the students to not only take a test on the assigned book for their grade level, but also any other books they have read over the summer.

“This is designed to keep them reading throughout the summer, so their skills continue to grow,” said Fischer. “We have found that students who continue to read throughout the summer come back to school with less of a drop in their reading proficiency. We tell our students that practice is important in sports and it is equally important to their growth as a reader.”

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