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Summer means rest, relaxation and reading time
Posted on 07/09/2018
OCPS Reads

It’s summertime. The time of year where backpacks get shoved under beds; swimsuits, shorts and flip flops become daily wear; and long afternoon naps are the norm.


Before those naps, the 30-minutes of daily rain showers are the perfect time to encourage your child to read something that aligns with his/her interests. Whether it’s sport stories, fashion articles, graphic novels, romance, comedy, sci-fi, mysteries or biographies, any fiction or nonfiction makes for excellent summer reading.


For parents who want to help their child choose a book, the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME) publishes lists to accommodate the various age groups: The Sunshine State Young Readers Award (SSYRA) and Florida Teens Read (FTR).


The Sunshine State Young Readers Award Program is a statewide reading program for students in grades 3-5 and 6-8, with a new junior list that offers picture books to grade 2 options. SSYRA is a collaborative effort between the Florida Association of Media in Education (FAME) and the Florida Department of Education (DOE) to encourage students to read for pleasure and to choose books that are on, above, and below their reading level to improve their reading fluency. Sunshine State books are selected for their “wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation.”


The Florida Teens Read program is a list of 15 titles chosen by a committee of 12 school librarians specifically to engage high school students (grades 9 through 12) in reading and reflect their interests as well as “represent a variety of genres, formats, reading levels, viewpoints, and ethnic and cultural perspectives.”


Students who read for pleasure develop better fluency rates and can transfer that skill across their educational coursework. Reading fluency is the ability to read text accurately, quickly and with expression. Students who read fluently recognize words automatically, which allows them to concentrate their attention on what the text means, as opposed to less fluent readers who spend most of their time deciphering the words instead of understanding the text.


Reading is a necessary skill in all facets of life (contracts, personal and professional communications, examinations, etc…). Teaching a child to love reading makes navigating adulthood that much easier.


Evidence shows that students who lack educational activities throughout the summer can lose up to two reading levels by sixth grade. Spending time reading, doing experiments or engaged in some type of learning will help students retain knowledge.


Book FairTo help one school combat the learning loss, the Orange County Bar Young Lawyers Section (YLS) sponsored a book fair at Washington Shores Elementary.


Keshara Cowans, YLS local chapter president, helped organize the event. Cowans, who began reading at an early age, is passionate about reading and feels “literacy is very important.”

The YLS wanted to provide all of the Washington Shores students with books they could keep. With 516 K-5 students plus two Headstart programs, they knew they needed to raise roughly $4000 to provide each student with two books.


To fulfill their goal, the YLS applied for and received a $1500 grant from the Florida Bar Young Lawyers Division and raised an additional $1700 at a social function. The $3200, along with publisher and other book donations helped them exceed their goal.


Not only did every student at Washington Shores receive two books to “kick start their summer reading,” but they donated the extras for teachers to use in their classroom libraries.


“The best part was working the book fair. Seeing their faces when they found out they got to keep the books made the entire event a success,” Cowans said.


OCPS would love to see what you and your child are reading this summer. Share on social media with #OCPSReads. The top three posts from elementary, middle, high school and faculty/staff will earn prizes! We can’t wait to see what your family is reading.