For the Love of Reading
Indiana voters took their schools back from the Chiefs for Change group in November, ousting Tony Bennett and replacing him with an educator – Glenda Ritz. I mention this, not because of Oklahoma’s political landscape, but because we are very similar to Indiana in many ways. Both states have a couple of metropolitan areas and quite a bit of rural area and population. Until recently, both states were led by reformers with ties to Jeb Bush. And both states have had testing difficulties with CTB/McGraw-Hill over the last couple of weeks.
Now we have at least one more thing in common: summer reading initiatives.
Earlier this week, I highlighted Oklahoma’s summer reading program, which is being jointly promoted by Superintendent Barresi and Governor Fallin. Essentially, the state wants to encourage children to read at least five books this summer – provided that they are above the child’s Lexile level.
In contrast, here is how the Indiana press release describes their program:
|Dear Parents and Community Supporters,
Welcome to our first-ever Hoosier Family of Readers summer reading opportunity! I strongly believe that a reader is not simply someone who can read; a reader is someone who does read. Therefore, I am very pleased to invite you, your children, and your community to join our statewide efforts to develop a culture of readers in Indiana. Hoosier Family of Readers establishes a unique, fun collaboration between our families, our schools, and many community partners. The goal for the initiative is for adults and children to identify their Hoosier Family of Readers and read each day throughout the summer. A reading family can be any combination of caring adults and children. IDOE is partnering with over 175 organizations including libraries, Boys & Girls Clubs, scout troops, schools, faith-based organizations, United Way and other non-profits state wide. Organizations are being empowered to include reading within their summer programs. Our USDA Summer Food Service Program sites will feature an “Eat & Read” opportunity in many locations.
We are encouraging all of our “reading families” to read anything that interests them –including graphic novels, non-fiction books, magazines, and newspapers – whether online or in print. We suggest that they:
We have some special partners who will be making appearances on our website, in posters and at media events throughout the summer. These include award-winning Young Adult novelist John Green, Indiana Fever player Briann January, and Clifford the Big Red Dog! We are also fortunate to partner with myON Books, a complete digital library with English and Spanish texts that is being made available to all participants. Follow our links to learn more, and let us know what you are reading this summer!
The release even includes a link to a flyer that parents can print and on which children can fill in the names of people reading with them. That is but one of several key differences between the programs. Oklahoma’s program emphasizes the students’ Lexile scores – a measurement not commonly used by school districts. Indiana’s encourages students to read anything they can get their eyes on. And to read with people. And to hear people read.
Just read, read, read.
That’s how people become better readers: time spent reading. While we definitely want children challenging themselves, it is probably more important that they enjoy what they read – that they see themselves as readers. They need to see themselves as belonging to a community of readers. They need to discuss what they’ve read. They need to feel like it’s ok not to like something. And they need to be able to discuss that too.
One program promotes Lexiles. One promotes reading.