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Albion students can earn extra credit by reading over summer

Posted 30 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Photos by Sue Cook – Chris Keller watches the game while middle school librarian Jodi Brady has Claire Squicciarini and Logan Conlon roll the dice to pick their next books.

By Sue Cook, staff reporter

ALBION – The Fizz, Boom, Read summer reading program continues in the Hoag Library. The program is designed to encourage reading through the opportunity to earn prizes, but Albion has a little extra incentive to draw in students.

Albion students that participate in the summer reading program earn the opportunity for extra credit toward their September English class.

Wednesday nights from 5 to 8 p.m. English Department Chair Chris Keller, along with Albion teachers and the middle school librarian, gather in the teen room at Hoag. Students are welcome to come play a monopoly-like board game which helps guide book choices or independently pick their own reading material. After completing a book, students earn tickets based on their goals to enter into drawings for prizes.

Goals are diverse and offer options for kids to be able to freely pick almost anything they would like to read. Sample goals include reading a newspaper or a book from a series.

“Our goal is to get kids to read,” said Keller. “We want this to be flexible and offer choices in a game atmosphere. The idea was to partner with the local library, raise the kids’ awareness, and turn up the volume on reading.”

The colored spaces offer kids a chance to read a book in the genre listed such as mythology (non-fiction), biography, science fiction or horror for two tickets. Players can also choose to ignore the space and pick a book outside the genre for one ticket instead.

“I love libraries,” Keller added. “I always say I grew up in the library. I am a relatively successful person and I attribute a lot of my success to my public library. It really was a great resource and helped me develop my love of reading.”

Besides just a refresher in reading, the program’s tie into Fizz, Boom, Read means that science and math are incorporated into the program as well. Students that play the board game are quizzed on the periodic table of elements, but also can answer questions about the Latin origin of the words, the history of the elements and the people who discovered them. Correct answers can lead to more prize tickets.

The library also offers opportunities to come in during the regular summer reading program hours on Mondays and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m. This gives more flexibility to parents who may not be able to bring their children during the Wednesday hours.

The program is a collaboration between the school and library, which is targeted mostly toward sixth through ninth graders, although any child in the middle or high school is encouraged to participate. Donated prizes to help entice young readers include Kindles, tablets, ice cream party and pizza party supplies, school supplies and gift cards.

The English credit that students earn is factored as extra credit into their Common Core grades. For students that may be struggling, this program could be the difference between pass and fail.

Keller explained that kids lose information over the summer. Reading helps to retain some of the information and can close the gap between children that have a socio-economic advantage over others. Students that have participated in the summer reading programs have shown better scores and overall reading ability when they return to regular classes.

“We knew we had to close the gap, but we also had to fight the summer drop-off,” said Keller.

“We need to get back into the idea that reading is a necessity,” he said, commenting that some homes don’t even have books in them. “Our students leave high school now and are not prepared for college.”

Students can join the reading program at any time. There are still a few weeks left to participate to receive credit toward English class and earn prize tickets. Even a student that only attends a couple of sessions can benefit greatly from the program.

Younger readers and adults can also take part in the library’s regular reading program. The entire program will conclude on Aug. 21 with an ice cream social for all participants.