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5 School Libraries Open for Summer
Linda Mah
/ Categories: Communications

5 School Libraries Open for Summer

Library Hours Are Part of Expanded KPS Literacy Efforts

Kalamazoo Public Schools will open libraries in five buildings as part of a multifaceted approach designed to help bolster student reading skills over the summer.

The libraries at Arcadia Elementary School, Lincoln International Studies School, Washington Writers’ Academy, Edison Environmental Science Academy, and Woodward School for Technology and Research will be open to all KPS elementary school children June 19-Aug. 17.

In addition, the district is expanding its summer book program, in which books are sent to children throughout the summer; the district is hosting a reading conference; and the summer school program is being retooled.

“This is to beat back summer slide,” KPS Superintendent Michael Rice said. “One of the things we learned a few months ago at a Reading Now Network symposium is that 80 percent of the gap in reading between middle class and working class and poor children is associated with what happens in the summer.

“Middle class kids are more likely to continue reading and experience flat to increasing reading levels. Poor kids who are not reading experience flat to declining reading levels. The gap widens as the effects of those summers continues.”

The summer library program schedule will be:

Arcadia - 9:30-10:30 a.m. Monday
Lincoln - 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Monday
Washington - 11 a.m.- 1 p.m. Tuesday
Edison - 1-3 p.m. Wednesday
Woodward - 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday

The schools will be closed July 3 and 4.

The books program is an expansion of a program that began in 2008. This year the program will give eight books to each child entering third through sixth grade in the fall. An estimated 4,000 children will receive books, which includes seven that they selected and one book that will be the grade-level read for the year. The books are a mix of fiction and nonfiction, and are mailed to the children’s homes about once every 10 days.

“What we hope to see is more engaged kids who are reading to a greater extent, reading not only these books but reading at the Kalamazoo Public Library as well,” Rice said. “We’re priming the pump. We don’t expect this to be the end all and be all on reading. We expect this to be the beginning.

“We want to get them to get excited about one book and start going out into the wider world of books. We are less interested in what you are reading over the summer, than that you read over the summer.”

As the children read the books they are asked to mail in a postcard with their thoughts on the book. Teachers respond to the postcards with words of encouragement.

Another element in the literacy push will be a reading conference the district is organizing. “Mirrors of Me: Children Seeing Themselves in Their Literature,” will be held Aug. 1 at the Western Michigan University Bernhard Center. The conference will examine the role of multicultural literature in the development of grade-level reading skills.

The presenters will be Dr. Alfred Tatum, dean of the University of Illinois College of Education, director of the UIC Reading Clinic, and author of “Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap” and “Fearless Voices: Engaging the Next Generation of African American Male Writers,” and Alvin Irby, founder of Barbershop Books, a community-based literacy program that creates child-friendly reading spaces in barbershops.

The conference costs $20. Registration for the conference can be found at

The school district also hopes to boost reading among students by expanding the summer school program, which runs June 26-Aug. 3. The program generally attracts about 1,000 students each summer, but this year the district would like to enroll an additional 100 to 200 students.

Summer school runs 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at King-Westwood and Milwood elementary schools for elementary school children, and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Kalamazoo Central for middle school and high school students.

For summer school registration, call Teaching and Learning Services at 269-337-1680.
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