Developing culture of reading is vital to Oklahoma City schools, community

August 14, 2017

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Oklahoma City Public Schools elementary students “Got in the Game” in a big way this summer.

ReadOKC, a volunteer led initiative of the OKCPS Compact, was launched last May with the announcement of a summer reading program challenging all OKCPS pre-K through 6th grade students to Get in the Game and read at least 20 minutes per day.

Summer reading is critical to reducing the summer slide, which is lost achievement gains during the summer months. These losses are especially prevalent among low income students who don't have access to reading during the summer.

Assemblies will be held at every elementary school in the district to celebrate reading efforts throughout the summer. Top readers from every school will receive prizes donated by McDonald's and Scholastic and the top five schools will be surprised with visits from the OKC Thunder.

Top readers from the district will be recognized and awarded prizes at the OKCPS Board of Education meeting on September 18.

One of ReadOKC's primary partners, myOn, tracked reading on their digital platform and showed significant gains from last summer. OKCPS students read three times more than last summer, to be exact. Nearly 40,000 books were accessed and a total of 260,340 minutes were logged.

ReadOKC will be adding other reading data to these numbers, but the results so far are worthy of excitement.

Summer activities promoting reading happened throughout the city. There was a reading room at Penn Square Mall that drew more than 500 families and had visitors including Rumble, Clifford the Big Red Dog and Spoticus from the Metro Library. The Energy FC recognized ReadOKC at a recent match and the OKC Dodgers will have a top reader throw out the first pitch at an upcoming game. State Rep. Cindi Munson read to kids at the Boys and Girls Club and Superintendent Aurora Lora read at the OKC Zoo.

The Oklahoman, KOCO-5 and Tyler Media donated ad space totaling thousands of dollars. Community partners for this initiative have offered help from so many areas and have made a tremendous impact on awareness for summer reading.

ReadOKC isn't just a summer reading program, however. It is a movement to promote the love of reading. Data shows that the more reading a student does, the more successful he/she is in school. Reading is a proven way to help eliminate the achievement gap. It is a skill that will serve students in school and in life. We depend on our teachers to provide reading instruction, but must also see this as a communitywide endeavor that everyone has a stake in. Developing a culture of reading is vital to our schools and to our community.

The going forward plan for ReadOKC includes working groups called Project Teams, who are volunteers focused on particular areas of interest. The project teams include Celebrations, Reading Buddies, Book Links and community and nonprofit partner development. There is a large group of individuals committed to the ReadOKC movement, but any interested party is invited to join. Please message mary@okckids.com for more information.

ReadOKC is another way community partners support Oklahoma City Public Schools. One book at a time.

Read Mary Mélon's original NewsOK editorial