Research shows that children who don’t read over the summer can lose valuable literacy skills and fall behind in the approaching school year. Please click here to watch an informational video about this important issue.
To help fight summer learning loss, the Road Map Project partners with libraries, communities and local organizations each year to support a regional summer reading campaign called Let’s Read!. This campaign encourages children to read during the summer by connecting parents and families to helpful resources, such as library summer reading programs and regional summer meals sites. Let’s Read! aims to increase kindergarten readiness and proficiency in 3rd grade reading by developing a culture in which families read together daily.
In 2010, a group of national philanthropies started the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to put a spotlight on the importance of reading at grade-level by 3rd grade. In 2012, that campaign partnered with the National Civic League in an effort to encourage communities across the country to tackle this issue, and eight cities in the Road Map Project region — Auburn, Burien, Federal Way, Kent, Renton, SeaTac, Seattle, and Tukwila — were named All-America Cities for a regional plan to increase the number of low-income students reading proficiently. Fourteen awards were given through a competitive process, with more than 120 communities vying for this designation.
Also in 2012, the idea for Let’s Read! was sparked by the Road Map Project’s Birth to 3rd Grade Work Group. In June of that year, the campaign kicked off with 40,000 literacy-focused flyers distributed in 123 Seattle and South King County elementary schools. Additionally, 1,500 colorful Let’s Read! posters were displayed in places frequented by families, such as doctors’ offices, public housing locations and child care providers. A website, letsreadkingcounty.org, was also created to enhance the effort, and local mayors helped spread the message by taping television public service announcements. Toward the end of summer, children who participated in the King County Library System’s summer reading program were invited to celebrate with the Federal Way mayor and Seattle Mariner Moose.
Building on the efforts of the 2012 campaign, Let’s Read! expanded its reach in 2013. Beginning with meetings held in each of the seven Road Map Project school districts, Let’s Read! supporters shared information on the needs and available resources in their communities. Drawing upon the feedback of community and school partners, a collection of Let’s Read! materials were created, including posters (in nine languages), stickers, magnets, postcards and a Summer Reading Agreement (in 14 languages), to communicate the importance of summer reading to children and families.
An additional component of the 2013 Let’s Read! campaign revolved around a Summer Reading Commitment included in the $40 million Race to the Top grant awarded to our region. The goal of the Summer Reading Commitment is to decrease summer learning loss for the youngest students. This commitment involved creating a summer reading plan for all kindergarten through 2nd grade students in the region’s high-need elementary schools. The classification “high-need” was created during the grant application process and was determined by the percentage of students qualifying for free and reduced-price lunch — 77% or higher in most cases. A small group of staff representing each of the seven Road Map Project school districts met regularly throughout the spring to design the summer reading plan, which included the following elements:
More than 12,000 kindergarten through 2nd grade students received the summer reading plan from their teachers or school librarians in early June. In addition, nearly 70 service providers across the Road Map Project region (the YMCA of Greater Seattle, the Auburn School District Summer Meals Program and the City of Tukwila Parks & Recreation Department to name a few) distributed tens of thousands of Let’s Read! printed materials to the children and families they serve.
In June, a Let’s Read! Facebook page was launched and began distributing weekly literacy tips. The tips, which were designed to be included in newsletters or emails to parents, were also shared with a group of 65 regional service providers. Through Facebook alone, the tips reached more than 100 individuals each week, and thousands more through the networks of those receiving the tips via email.
Through a generous donation from Seattle-based nonprofit Page Ahead, more than 7,000 new books were distributed throughout the region in July. The majority of books were placed directly into the hands of children, while others were added to the library collections of various organizations, such as the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club in South Seattle.
To read a comprehensive report of the 2013 Let’s Read! campaign, please click here (link is a PDF).
Planning of the 2014 Let’s Read! campaign began in September 2013 with the collection of feedback from involved partners. This feedback, collected via a survey, is shaping the campaign now and in the future. The majority of survey respondents identified the need to provide resources and materials to the community much earlier in the year. Thanks to this input, the campaign timeline has been adjusted. Community planning meetings will be held two months earlier than last year, and materials will be distributed to high-need elementary schools nearly three months earlier.
A new staff member, May Saetern, an AmeriCorps VISTA member from the United Way of King County, will work with the Community Center for Education Results over the next year to further build the capacity of the summer reading campaign.
The following materials are available for download. If you are interested in using materials in different languages, please contact Kelsey Landes, Regional Summer Reading Campaign Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get involved, you can:
Over 50,000 summer reading plans (summer reading agreements, Let’s Read! magnets and King County Library System or Seattle Public Library summer learning logs) were distributed to 61 elementary schools in the Road Map Project region as part of the 2014 Let’s Read! campaign.