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SummerREADS Library Dispatch

This past weekend I had a conversation with a friend’s aunt which reminded me yet again why I love what I do. She spoke to me about her children’s love of reading, and the family’s emphasis on reading together and reading aloud. I then told her about my position as a counselor with SummerREADS, explaining that it was these key elements of literacy that drive organizations like MOST to bring these experiences to everyone, regardless of income or family structure. 

I am very aware of my own privilege each time I walk into my school and say good morning to my students. My childhood summers were not spent in my elementary school but rather in summer programs my mother registered me for, all of which prevented me from the feared “summer slide” common among students who do not have access to such programs outside of school time. My love of reading was built upon these summers which gave me the opportunities to be exposed to new materials through trips to my local bookstore and library. I realize this experience is not something I can recreate in a single summer with every student, but I have been pushing myself to help create a space that builds a love of books in my students. 

Of course, this is a little difficult when I’m faced with students who struggle with reading or are just not interested. How do I share my passions without it seeming foisted upon them? How do I stress that love it or not, literacy is an extremely important skill for all areas of life, without my privilege coloring my understanding of the world? One of the most important lessons I learned this summer came from one of the program coordinator of SummerREADS, Tanisha Owens. As I was sitting with a student who was holding a book above her reading level, Tanisha reminded me that there are three main ways for a student to read a book: 1) actually reading it, 2) “rereading” a book by memorizing the words or the story and following along or 3) looking at the pictures to understand the story or create a new one. Each of these ways, she said, keep the student physically engaged with the book, get the student interested.

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