Kentucky Department of Education launches summer reading initiative

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Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, center, announces a new summer reading and math initiative at the Kentucky Board of Education meeting June 5.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis, center, announces a new summer reading and math initiative at the Kentucky Board of Education meeting June 5. Children will be given free books at several lunch programs being held across the state this summer as a part of the Stride, Don’t Slide! initiative.
Photo by Danielle Harris, June 5, 2019

(FRANKFORT, KY) – Children will be given free books at several lunch programs being held across the state this summer as a part of the Kentucky Department of Education’s summer reading and math initiative, Stride, Don’t Slide!

Beginning in mid-June, Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) officials and members of the Kentucky Board of Education will travel the Commonwealth, offering free reading activities and book giveaways as part of a national initiative through READ Up: Stop the Summer Slide℠ and The Children’s Reading Foundation.

“Although the summer months provide a much-needed break for students and teachers, studies show that up to three months of regression in reading and math can happen during the time off. The threat of regression is greatest for students not participating in summer learning and enrichment activities,” said KDE Commissioner Wayne Lewis. “With this initiative, our goals are to encourage parents to read to their youngest children for 20 minutes a day, encourage older students to read daily and promote summer-long learning for all students.”

KDE has partnered with 10 districts in all regions of the state, where it will offer free lesson plans and books to all children who attend the events. The program will be held in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer Food Service Program events. Districts participating in the reading program include Fleming, Marion, Franklin, Hickman and Whitley counties.

“This is an exciting opportunity to promote reading and summer learning with students and families across the commonwealth,” said KDE Deputy Commissioner Amanda Ellis. “We are looking forward to meeting and reading with students throughout the summer.”

READ Up events are for children from birth to age 8 (3rd-graders) and their parents or caregivers. At every event, adults will leave with new skills and motivation to encourage their young readers, and children will be able to select a new book and fun take-home materials. Research shows that access to books, books in the home and reading aloud leads to gains in children’s pre-literacy and literacy skills.

Books for the program have been donated by the Governor’s Office for Early Childhood, the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services and through a KDE partnership with Penguin Books. Organizations and people wishing to donate additional books or funding for book purchases may contact Karen Wirth at Karen.Wirth@education.ky.gov.

“The Children’s Reading Foundation focuses on ensuring every child learns to read early and well, thereby reaching his or her full potential in school and in life,” said The Children’s Reading Foundation CEO Kristin Norell. “We’re so pleased that students across Kentucky will have the opportunity to benefit from our READ Up: Stop the Summer Slide program.”

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