The Tri-Cities Kiwanis is purchasing the books for every second-grader enrolled in Grand Haven Area Public Schools — 368 in all. The young students will choose the first book from one of 12 series.
Previously, the Tri-Cities Kiwanis provided third-graders with dictionaries.
“The shift to provide a book for summer reading for second-grade students, and giving them a choice for the book, reflects the thoughtfulness and agility of the Kiwanis,” said Mary Jane Evink, the director of instructional services for the Grand Haven school district. “They want to support third-grade reading proficiency and prevent the ‘summer slide’ for students.”
Sandy Huber, a past president of the Tri-Cities Kiwanis and a former educator, said they plan to distribute the books before school dismisses for the summer.
By having students start with the first book of a series, Evink said they hope that it will interest them in continuing the series during the summer by visiting the library or bookstore.
“Reading over the summer prevents loss of reading achievement and can even grow achievement by reading books at a child’s level,” Evink said. “There is prolific research to support this.”
The program is expected to cost about $2,000, Huber said.
Huber noted the Kiwanis efforts to provide students with books goes hand-in-hand with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District’s World-Class Classroom Libraries, which aims to provide K-4 classes in Grand Haven and Spring Lake schools with books.
Evink said the project also wouldn’t be possible without the support of Jennifer Pike, an Ottawa Area Intermediate School District consultant; Tom Stream, a GHAPS media specialist; and Amy Miller, a GHAPS literacy coach.
Evink offered advice for helping students read — create a routine to read every day, and read about 20 minutes a day. She said it’s also important to talk about what they read. Evink encourages parents to ask their children to read before having fun with friends or having screen time, and calls it’s a “bonus” when children and parents read together.
“Children need to hear reading from adults or experienced readers, in addition to doing it on their own,” Evink explained. “Talking about what you read is easy and has significant impacts on reading achievement.”
Anyone interested in joining the Tri-Cities Kiwanis in gifting students with the books can write to them at P.O. Box 571, Grand Haven, MI 49417.