A Big Idea to Keep Students Reading This Summer

By Deb Baker, Executive Assistant Hesperia Unified School District in Hesperia, Calif.

"How do you keep kids reading over the summer?" is an often-asked question at schools across the nation.

Hesperia Unified School District in the high-desert town of Hesperia, Calif., seems to have found at least one answer: a special reading program and community-wide event that is being organized under the banner of "Don’t Let Your Summer Be a Bummer."

With summer school canceled because of budget cuts, event organizer Deb Baker said she felt the school district needed to do something that would keep kids reading during the summer.

The main goal of the event, to be held Saturday, May 2, is to register at least 200 kids for the Scholastic Book Fairs Read for the World Record challenge, a program designed to keep kids reading over the summer.

To aid the effort, volunteers from the Parent Coordinating Council, a group of involved parents in the school district, plan to set up computers in the library to help kids register. The students' challenge: to accumulate enough total reading minutes to be recognized as one of the top 20 schools in the 2010 Scholastic Book of World.

Thanks to Baker's relentless efforts, Hesperia and many of the surrounding communities are lending their support to the event. The Hesperia Public Library, Hesperia Parks and Recreation Department, local fire department, and local businesses will be in attendance.

To generate interest – and more book sales and student signups – the event will feature a karate exhibition, book raffles, dance demonstrations, and a fire engine on display. Event organizers also will donate $500 in books and merchandise to the elementary school with the most students in attendance. Plus, the event will feature a 50% Off Book Fair, so kids can stock up on books for the summer months.

"Our goal is to sell between 27 and 30 cases of books during the one-day event," said Baker, who now works as executive assistant to the superintendent and is celebrating her 22nd year with the Hesperia school district. "If the event takes off, we may end up doing it annually.

"I'm very excited about the upcoming event. Everyone has pitched in to help, including the local Scholastic representatives, who are always open to new ideas. It’s very much a partnership," Baker said. 
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