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February 16, 2024

Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge Thrive and Dine Breakfast: Uniting Providers for Summer Reading Success

Shalia Moore-Hayes, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

On February 13th, the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge Thrive and Dine Breakfast brought together summer learning program providers from four counties. The purpose? To collaborate on strengthening the foundation of summer learning for children, parents and families, and staff. The gathering was not just a meeting but a symposium of ideas and dedication to fostering a culture of reading and learning.

The discussion was vibrant and dynamic regarding enriching the summer experiences of children, parents, families, and staff. Ideas flourished, from traditional methods like creating book clubs to more innovative approaches such as incorporating technology to improve reading skills. Here are some of the ideas shared:

  • Reading in 20 Different Places: Encouraging children to explore various environments while reading.
  • Reading Buddies: Pairing children with reading buddies to enhance comprehension and enjoyment.
  • Talent Show and Readers Theatre: Providing platforms for children to showcase their talents and love for literature.
  • Engaging Incentives: Offering incentives to motivate children to participate actively in reading programs.
  • Field Trips and Lock-ins: Organizing excursions and overnight events focused on literary themes.
  • Learning Games: Introducing games that foster literacy skills in an enjoyable way.
  • Building Reading Stamina and Confidence: Implementing strategies to boost endurance and self-assurance in reading.
  • Library Cards: Promoting library usage and access to a vast array of reading materials.
  • Technology Integration: Utilizing technology as a tool to enhance reading experiences.
  • Supporting and Challenging Reading Levels: Tailoring support to individual needs while providing challenges to promote growth.
  • Creating Your Own Book: Empowering children to become authors of their own stories.
  • Celebrating Accomplishments: Recognizing and celebrating milestones achieved in reading journeys.

Engaging parents and families in the process of fostering literacy is crucial for a holistic approach to summer learning. Here are some of the strategies discussed:

  • Creating Book Kits: Providing resources for families to continue reading at home.
  • Mystery/Guest Readers: Inviting guest readers to captivate children’s interest in reading.
  • Book of the Month: Recommending a monthly book for families to read together.
  • Social Media Usage and Newsletters: Leveraging digital platforms to share reading tips and updates.
  • Family Reading Nights: Organizing events that promote family bonding through reading activities.
  • Parent Fun Night: Providing resources and activities for families to enjoy together, fostering a love for learning.
  • Sharing Parent Favorite Books: Encouraging parents to share their favorite books and experiences with their children.
  • Reading Confidence Boosters: Offering guidance and support to parents in nurturing their children’s reading confidence.

Empowering staff members and recognizing their pivotal role in summer learning programs was another event focus. Here are some of the strategies recommended to support staff:

  • Staff Incentives: Providing incentives to recognize and appreciate staff dedication.
  • More Training Time and Resources: Investing in professional development to enhance staff skills.
  • Google School Resource: Leveraging digital tools like Google Classroom for efficient resource management.
  • Creating Little Free Libraries: Establishing mini libraries to promote reading accessibility in communities.
  • Staff Favorite Books: Sharing staff recommendations to inspire children and families.
  • Staff as Role Models: Encouraging staff to lead by example in their passion for reading.
  • Understanding the “Why”: Communicating the importance and impact of summer learning to staff members.
  • Autonomy and Tap into Interests: Granting autonomy in program implementation and tapping into staff interests to foster engagement.
  • Reading During Hiring Process: Prioritizing candidates who exhibit a passion for reading and learning.
  • Community Partnerships: Collaborating with local organizations to expand resources and reach.

The Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge Thrive and Dine Breakfast was a testament to the collective commitment to enhancing summer reading experiences. We are encouraged by the wealth of ideas and strategies shared during this event; however, the journey continues. We must continue championing the importance of reading and learning over the summer months and beyond. Together, we play a vital role in shaping the future generation’s love for reading and lifelong learning. Let’s keep the momentum going and make every summer a season of growth, discovery, and enrichment through reading.

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