Monday, August 26, 2002

Summer reading program spurs second graders

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LOVELAND - When Loveland students return to school Tuesday, at least one group of second-graders will be ahead of the curve, thanks to their first-grade teacher who ran a book club over the summer.

        Lori Price taught 23 students at Loveland Primary School and wanted to make sure they maintained or improved their reading levels. Research shows that teachers spend up to a month of the school year reviewing knowledge that kids lost over the summer.

        “I'll be interested to find out if there's any difference between the kids who came to this and the ones who didn't,” Mrs. Price said.

        The reading club met once a month over the summer. Mrs. Price chose a theme for each meeting: “I Am Special,” “My Garden,” and “Beach Party.” She read books to the children based on the theme, and the children also did crafts and activities to fit the topic.

        Meetings were held outside the school, where Mrs. Price sat under a tree reading as the kids gathered around. At the Beach Party meeting, the children brought beach towels to sit on while they listened.

        Students kept track of how much they read at home, earning one point for every 20 minutes. They collected prizes at the monthly meetings. They also got a monthly club newsletter to encourage reading.

        About half of her first-grade class participated in the book club. Each child read an average of 15 hours over the summer. Some, like 7-year-old Alyssa Thiel, read even more.

        “She's a maniac,” said her mother, Chris Thiel of Loveland. “She gets up in the morning, and she reads in bed when I think she's sleeping in.”

        Alyssa is a good reader, her mother said, so Mrs. Price has challenged her to read more difficult books. Among Alyssa's favorites are The Magic Treehouse and Animorphs series.

        “This summer reading club has been a real inspiration to her. Earning points and prizes is a real incentive. I feel very lucky,” said Ms. Thiel. “Not many teachers want to put in their own time to inspire kids to read. At this age, it's so important they read over the summer to bolster their ability.”

        It's also unusual for a teacher to help last year's students over the summer, even though they'll be moving on to the next grade. Mrs. Price admitted she had an ulterior motive besides keeping them reading.

        “I'm so attached to the kids,” she said. “This is kind of a weaning. You'd be amazed how attached you can become to 23 6-year-olds.”


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