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August 23, 2023


Karen Windon, Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading

As kids head back into the classroom for another great year of learning, we heard how much fun they had while reading this summer in the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading’s (SCGLR) THIS BOOK IS COOL! (TBIC!) program. With families reporting that their children read almost 100,000 books over the summer, we know that reading was a blast all across the region. The hundreds of pictures and videos that were shared reinforced that reading is indeed the key to succeeding! With over 4,000 children registered for the program, the team and our amazing volunteers prepared and distributed over 80,000 books for these kiddos. 

At the end of the summer, participating families were sent a survey to see what worked well and where there were opportunities to improve. With more than 150 responses to date, it is evident that parents and caregivers wanted to contribute to the knowledge base of the TBIC! program.

The mom of a first and third-grader summed it up beautifully, sharing the value of reading something different from the normal choices. “My kids loved getting their bag of goodies to kick off summer break. The variety in the books they would normally not choose for themselves led to many questions, conversations and learning opportunities.” Another parent was excited about her thoughts on the best thing about the program. “My child got access to high-quality books that provoked discovery and conversation, as well as fun books!” And yet another shared, “Listening to my child read out loud and educate me on what she read.” 

Educators who participated in the summer program were equally excited about their experience during the summer. Virgil Mills third grade teacher Lyndsey Smith shared her thoughts about the best part of the summer. “Everything! This summer has truly been amazing. I loved engaging with the families, meeting them, hearing their success stories, and helping them when needed. My only wish is that it did not end so fast.” And recently retired teacher Monique Thornton reinforced this with her comments. “The gratitude from families that we made a difference even though we were not face to face! I also loved when they shared about their children achieving goals and reading in ways they never did before! And the pictures were PRECIOUS!”

Did we mention the amazing family engagement events at the libraries? The “Minute to Win It” events were a big hit, as families engaged in some fun and friendly competition to show their skills. The “Create Your Own Launcher” events created more opportunities for fun, learning, and laughs! 

We look forward to hearing about how our TBIC! Kids are doing in the classroom this school year, and we will share the data as it becomes available. But one thing we know. Reading over the summer is so valuable. And these kids are cool!



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