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The L.O.U. Reads Coalition Keeps L.O.U. Reading – Even Over the Summer!

Photo courtesy LOUreads.org
Photo courtesy LOUreads.org

With local schools now out for vacation, children all over our community are excited for summer’s special joys: days at the pool, fun with friends, barbeques with family, and ice cream cones to top it off!

Even while having a much-deserved break from the classroom, it is important for children to continue developing their literacy skills through rich conversations with friends and family, reading books and being read to, and—especially for those in need of extra support—practicing explicit literacy strategies.

Research shows that low-income children are particularly at-risk for “summer learning loss,” meaning that they lose valuable academic ground over vacation and are less likely to achieve reading proficiency by the end of third grade—a critical predictor of long-term school and career success. The L.O.U. Reads Coalition, co-convened by United Way of Oxford & Lafayette County, the Lafayette County Literacy Council, the Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction (CELI), and the McLean Institute for Public Service & Community Engagement, is therefore leading many efforts to keep children reading daily.

This summer, two L.O.U. Reads programs are providing young children and their families with take-home kits to support reading in the home. The Read For Success program, which was developed by the national non-profit Reading is Fundamental, is providing almost 180 rising first graders who are at risk of summer learning loss with a set of 8 books, as well as helpful tips and other materials to support families in promoting literacy over the summer. Funded by both a matching grant and federal dollars, Read For Success is a partnership between L.O.U. Reads and Bramlett Elementary School.

Also this summer, rising first, second, and third graders who participate in the Boys & Girls Club and Leap Frog programs are receiving summer toolkits, including carefully selected high-quality resources. Any family that hasn’t yet picked up its toolkit can do so at the Lafayette County & Oxford Public Library on Bramlett Boulevard. Having books in the home is a great way to foster children’s literacy development.

To help local families build their children’s book collections, L.O.U. Reads will again be distributing free books once a week at the Summer Feeding Program held at Oxford Intermediate School. These books have been collected through a spring L.O.U. Reads book drive and fundraiser led by Lamda Sigma. Distribution will be held on Tuesdays, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., starting on June 7, in conjunction with the free meal program, under the leadership of volunteers and staff working with United Way and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council.

The Little Free Library at Avent Park is another way for families to bring new books into their homes, though the L.O.U. Reads Coalition hopes that they will bring them back and/or donate others to the library!

Finally, families with children 5 and under are encouraged to sign up for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library through the Lafayette County Literacy Council, to get one free book a month mailed to them.

Beyond supporting children and families, the L.O.U. Reads Coalition is also helping summer programs enhance their work. The Center for Excellence in Literacy Instruction (CELI) at the University of Mississippi has hosted Literacy Leaders trainings for staff and volunteers serving at the Boys & Girls Club, Horizons Summer Learning Program, Oxford Park Commission (OPC), and other interested community organizations.

In addition, L.O.U. Reads is excited about a new partnership with Boys & Girls Club, through which CELI affiliated staff will work intensively with a small group of students in need of targeted instruction. The same CELI staff will also help to develop literacy lesson plans for all kindergarten through third graders attending Boys & Girls Club’s summer program. Further, participants in the Welcome Table program facilitated by the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation will also be volunteering as summer mentors and reading tutors with the Boys & Girls Club.

Of course, many L.O.U. Reads members are running wonderful summer programs serving hundreds of young children in our community. These include programs run by those organizations listed above, as well as programs run by both Lafayette County and Oxford School Districts, the Gordon Community & Cultural Center in Abbeville, the University of Mississippi Museum, the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council, and Dr. Rhonda Reed’s Reed Academy, which will this summer host a free weeklong camp for families living in the Oxford Housing Authority, and many more.

The L.O.U. Reads Coalition is proud to partner with many families, educators, organizations, and individual volunteers to keep L.O.U. reading!

For questions or comments, email us at hottytoddynews@gmail.com.

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