Summer Reading improves Creative Minds at Scotland Elementary

Dr Seuss, Walt Disney and Shakespeare: these are the three protagonists in the new Summer Reading Hand Book 2012 that I created in my new capacity of PTA chairperson for the Summer Reading Program 2012 at Scotland Elementary in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Over 400 copies are ready to go out to all students during this week’s Scholastic Book Fair.

Every year, Scotland Elementary stimulates its students to continue reading over the summer holidays. The children can take out ten books from school library and take it with them on their holidays. A reading list helps them to keep track of the books, writers and pages they read. This time however, the reading list is the central page of a complete kids handbook that triggers them to do more with books than just read the words of a story. The handbook stimulates them to use senses, feelings, setting of goals, visualization of situations and other aspects of communication. All in all, it keeps their minds sharp and motivated during the ten weeks break from school.

Finding out that classic and modern writers have more in common than you may think, is one of the achievements of this year’s Summer Reading Program. Other achievements are improved reading skills, true creative thinking, having fun and overcoming boredom during the summer holidays. With the Scottie dog as mascot, children will be entertained while fulfilling the reading list requirements. Writing a story backwards, making their own illustrations to a story and making a book map based on the Treasure Island map are games that subconsciously spark their creative and sense-making abilities.

There are two quotes from America’s famous writer Mo Willems that describe the Summer Reading Program best:

“I always say, ‘Books beat boredom,’ said Amanda wisely.”Mo Willems, Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!

and

“The difference between children and adults is that they’re shorter – not dumber.”Mo Willems

The Program also invites all students who meet the reading list requirements to a Summer Reading Celebration in the 2nd week of the new school year. At this celebration they will receive a Dr Seuss Award and get to ‘meet and greet’ local writers and artists such as award winning children’s book writer Stephanie J. Corum who won an honorable mention at the San Francisco Book Festival.

The Program is managed by the PTA Summer Reading Committee in cooperation with the school principal and librarian. The making of the handbook was a great writing experience and I could not have done it without the support of the committee. They helped with producing the nearly 500 copies, but more importantly, they helped me with bringing my ‘grand’ idea back into a smaller, workable format. I guess Think Big But Work Small Before Working Big is the best motto for this exercise.

With a reading list transformed into a complete kids Summer Reading Handbook, strongly discounted book sales and an invitation to the Summer Reading Party with local writers and artists, the school’s PTA makes sure that this year’s  Summer Reading Program will be an experience not to be missed.

I wish all Scotland Elementary students and their families a great Story Shining Summer!

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