The summer of 2017 marked the first year of the Suncoast Summer Book Challenge sponsored by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading through the generosity of The Patterson Foundation.
The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading focuses on the common issues and obstacles that affect a child’s ability to read proficiently by the end of third grade: school readiness (0-age 5), school attendance, and summer learning. The average low-income child loses 2.5 – 3 months of reading proficiency each summer. This startling statistic motivated many in the Suncoast region to take action. Summer camp providers, individuals, businesses, county parks and recreation sites, library systems, school districts, and philanthropists partnered to make sure children in our region were motivated to read. The Suncoast Summer Book Challenge encouraged children to read a least six books during the summer months.
Participating children were rewarded with brightly colored silicone bracelets for every book they read while summer providers came up with numerous ways to keep reading in the forefront throughout the summer. The Patterson Foundation provided financial support to enhance this love of learning during the summer months. The School District of Manatee County and the School District of Sarasota County partnered with the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to provide assessment comparisons for the summer providers who were able to share school identifier numbers for the participating children.
Twenty-two locations participated in the 2017 Suncoast Summer Book Challenge. There were many learnings reported throughout the summer which will be used to improve the execution of the Suncoast Summer Book Challenge next year. One of the most significant challenges for the participating summer providers was data collection and reporting. We are exploring ways to streamline the process to enable us to gather information regularly from every site and to use that data to establish best practices throughout our region.
In 2017, more than 2,600 students signed up to participate in the Suncoast Summer Book Challenge; 918 students successfully completed six books. The twenty-two participating sites reported a total of 10,730 books read. What an achievement for the first Suncoast Summer Book Challenge!