OPS revs up summer reading program for elementary students

This is how OPS is giving their elementary students a little boost this summer.
Published: May. 19, 2022 at 10:23 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Making reading a big deal was what Thursday was all about for a group of first-graders at Lothrop Elementary.

”Kindergarten was a little tricky for them,” said Lothrop principal MeLitta Wilson. “So having things feel a little bit normal, having them look forward to something special, that sense of ‘I feel special’ is good for them.”

Sharing the stage with one of their favorite book characters, Peter Rabbit, was Omaha Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Logan. She read to the students from the book Wish.

According to national research by academic assessment company Amplify, more K-2 students are considered far behind in learning to read than were before the pandemic.

”Literacy has taken tremendous hits,” Logan said. “And you know anything that you aren’t practicing or that you get out of the routine of, or there’s other kinds of stressors, that impacts what you’re even capable of doing or producing.”

So Omaha Public Schools District has added a school by school challenge to its classic summer reading program for elementary students. They are sending each student home with 10 new Scholastic books, asking them to read 20 minutes a day and log it on the OPS website to see which schools read the most.

”There’s all sorts of research out there about whether challenges work,” Logan said. “Honestly, all we want kids to do is read, because we know that it’s the individual effort of each child that is going to be impactful for them.”

Wilson says for a generation of students learning to read in times of social distancing and distance learning, sending them home with books in their hands can have a lifelong impact.

”We are still very much tangible, especially at this age,” Wilson said. “Yes, we have the digital components of everything, but them having those tangible books at their access and feeling that sense of belonging that ‘these books are mine, I may have siblings that go to my school, but I also have my own set of books as well,’ I think also is very important.”

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