The results from the “Summer Reading Program” at Benton Elementary School in Benton, Tennessee more than substantiates the old saying that “reading is fun”. A group of more than sixty students from the K-2nd grades have attended the program that has been going on each Tuesday for the past eight weeks from 9-12. Each meeting day the students have all gathered in the auditorium for a short briefing then reported to class rooms by age group. In the class rooms the teachers read to the students, held discussions, and directed discussions between small groups within the classroom.They also worked on narrative writing for some of the groups which accented reading for comprehension, understanding the purpose and subject matter of the book in discussion and being able to put it on paper. The program is being coordinated by Dr. Tracy McAbee, principal at Benton Elementary and the staff includes eight teachers from the school. Teachers involved are Pam Thomas, Lara McTaggart, Shannon Davis, Tammy farmer, Bill Triplett, Brenda Stone, Krista Milen, and Melanie Kirkpatrick.
This is the second year for the program that has been subsidized by an Education Grant that has also provided for the teachers to attend UTK to pursue Reading Specialist degrees. The teachers involved will graduate in December with the subject degree. Another aspect of the program is free books for the students. Last year each student in kindergarten and first grade were given ten books whether they attended the summer program or not. This year each kindergartner that attended the Reading Program was given ten reading books.
I was fortunate enough to attend one of the sessions and I was extremely impressed with the interest and the excitement of the children and the interaction and response generated by the teachers during the session. The overall purpose of the program is to prevent “summer slide” relative to reading which means that the children will maintain and increase their interest in books and promote their ability to read for comprehension at that level. This will improve their ability in later years to learn by reading and should encourage their desire to seek education beyond the High School level.