100-k Books Donated to Syracuse Schools to Spur Summer Reading

Jun 4, 2014

First Graders at Salem Hyde Elementary School get books for summer reading
Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News

  Syracuse School District Officials announced the district received a donation of 100-thousand books to get kids to read over the summer.  There are documented reasons to keep young minds active when school’s out.

It’s pretty obvious that kids have some ideas about what they want to do come summer vacation.

"I like to go to the beach and play at the park and I read outside on my porch," said first-grader Kahlel Hills.  Kaylee Foster added, "I like to read and play outside."

Well if the Salem Hyde Elementary first-graders do crack the books at all, it would help.  Their Teacher Pam Angotti can see which students have been reading when she does testing in the fall.  And just 15 minutes-a-day does more for her students’ education than just improve their reading skill.

"They have to read in everything.  In math they have word problems and we’re doing science things with simple instructions and with the Common Core, a lot of the assessments are being given.  It is said that by the end of first grade they should be reading independently their own directions, like hand them the test and there you go.  So it is super important."

Angotti is having students in her class set their own summer reading goals so they might be more motivated to pick up the books. 


  • Access to books. It’s critical that kids have access to a wide variety of books over the summer months, but we know that access alone doesn’t make a strong impact.
  • Books that match readers’ ability levels and interests. For young people’s reading skills to improve, they need to read books that align with their own reading levels. Reading books that are too easy or too hard won’t help!
  • Comprehension, as monitored and guided by an adult, teacher or parent. The most important piece to making summer reading effective is the help of an adult who can ask questions and guide kids to better understand what they are reading.

The first graders each received a backpack with 10 books in it, donated by Scholastic Reading service; there’s also a reading journal.  Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras says 10-thousand students in the district will get the free books and packs.   But Contreras says if they’re really going to be beneficial, the district need some help.

If the parent doesn’t encourage it, students are not going to participate in reading or engage in reading.  Certainly we feel that teachers have encouraged this love of reading and love of learning but parents are a key element in encouraging reading over the summer. 

Studies show as much as 85-percent of the achievement gap between students from low-income and high-income families comes from the loss of reading skills over the summer.