Program aims to be page-turner for families

Summer reading program to be held in Coatesville and West Chester

Sen. Andy Dinniman is shown reading with his dog, Henry, for the brochure on the summer reading program.

“Splash into Summer Reading 2012,” a program developed in conjunction with the Chester County Intermediate Unit and the Chester County Coalition for Public Education, will serve hundreds of Chester County children and their families this summer, State Sen. Andy Dinniman announced last week.

“Studies have shown that the most important ingredient for academic success is parental involvement and that does not stop when schools let out for the summer,” Dinniman said in a press release. “One of the goals of ‘Splash into Summer Reading’ is not only to encourage kids to keep reading during the summer months, but also to get parents directly involved in their children’s literacy and reading readiness.”

The program will serve children ranging from preschool to eighth grade and will take place at two sites in Chester County, the New Life In Christ Fellowship in Coatesville and the YMCA of the Brandywine Valley’s Oscar Lasko Youth Program Center in West Chester. It was made possible by a literacy grant secured by Dinniman, who serves as minority chair of the Senate Education Committee. The Chester County Intermediate Unit provided reading specialists to develop and oversee the program curriculum, as well as to train volunteers, the release said.

“Research shows that students who do not engage in meaningful educational activities over the summer can lose as much as two months of learning in reading and in math. Low-income students are particularly at risk for the ‘summer slide,’” said Mary Curley, communications director for the Chester County Intermediate Unit. “This is why summer reading programs are critical to help our students retain the learning that they have acquired over the school year and to develop and enhance their reading skills over the summer months.”

The Rev. Dan Williams, pastor of New Life in Christ Fellowship in Coatesville, said his church was energized by the opportunity to serve as a host site. “Engagement in the education of children is a matter of conviction, calling, and authentic concern for the church, the sideline is not the place for us,” Williams said. “This has provided an opportunity for us to demonstrate, across denominational lines, a concern for people that is at the core of what and who the church is.”

Helen Flanders, executive director of the Oscar Lasko Youth Program Center, said that the “Splash” program would help build on the center’s other efforts to support children’s education and reading involvement in the summer months. “Thanks to Senator Dinniman’s literacy grant, children ages 5 to 15 in our free YPAL Summer Camp are bringing reading to life,” Flanders said.
Dinniman emphasized that elements of the program were specifically designed to get Chester County parents and adults involved in youth reading and literacy over the summer months.

“There is no question that kids who read over the summer are better prepared to hit the ground running when they return to school in the fall. And there is no doubt that parents who get involved in their children’s summer reading are more likely to remain involved in their children’s education when the school year resumes,” Dinniman said.

In addition, Dinniman said he would continue his annual efforts to keep kids reading this summer, including visiting various libraries and summer reading programs throughout Chester County to present awards, posters and bookmarks.
As part of the initiative, Dinniman’s office worked with the Chester County Historical Society to release a series of 12 bookmarks featuring famous Chester Countians. The bookmarks are available to the public at many Chester County libraries and Dinniman’s West Chester office.

The bookmarks feature Samuel Whitaker Pennypacker, Pennsylvania’s 23rd governor; Joseph Trimbel Rothrock, an environmentalist known as “the Father of Forestry” in Pennsylvania; Charlotte Moore Sitterly, an award-winning physicist and astronomer; Samuel Barber, a renowned composer of classic music; Ida Ella Ruth Jones, a self-taught artist known as “The Grandma Moses of Chester County;” Rebecca Lukens, an entrepreneur and the matriarch of Lukens Steel; Dr. William Darlington, a prominent doctor, financier and statesman; Sara Louisa Vickers Oberholtzer, a poet, abolitionist and women’s rights activist; Issac Israel Hayes, a famous Arctic explorer; Mother Maria Pacis, a lifelong educator and missionary; Dr. Ann Preston, a children’s book author, doctor and activist; Brig. Gen. Hazel Johnson-Brown, a pioneer in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps.

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