Summer Reading Challenge Begins its 9th Year

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ST. THOMAS — As the school year winds down, the Department of Education and the Office of the Governor are inviting students in Grades K through 6 to rev up their reading habits.

The 9th Annual Governor’s Summer Reading Challenge celebrates its launch with kick off events planned for St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John. This year’s program runs from June 12 through September 22.

The challenge goal is for students to read five or more books during the summer months.  Those who sign up in the V.I. students receive two starter books, a tracking sheets and a letter offering motivational words from Gov. Kenneth Mapp.

Mapp adopted the reading challenge for his predecessor, former Gov. John de Jongh and has appeared in public service announcements to promote the program.

The governor’s message promises students a summer of fun and growth through recreational reading. “Even fictional books will entertain you, stimulate your imagination and expand your vocabulary. It is up to each student to choose what books to read, but rest assured that any choice will expand your learning skills,” Mapp said.

Governors in all U.S. states and territories sponsor summer reading programs. The Virgin Islands program features books are written and illustrated by Virgin Islands’ or Caribbean authors.

This year, six new titles have been introduced to the Summer Reading Challenge, including: “B is for Benye,” “Spider in the Rain,” “When the Trees Come Alive,” “When I Grow Up,” “With Grace,” and “Sea Turtles of the Virgin Islands.”

The value of promoting recreational reading for children was expressed in a 1994 thesis by Lisa Marie DiGiovanna entitled “The Importance of Recreational Reading, and its Impact on Children’s Motivation, Attitude Towards Reading as well as Reading Achievement.” Among its findings the study compares performance in students who add recreational reading to their activities. It also looks at the background of high achievers and notes that many in that category come from homes that provide reading resources and encourage children to read on their own.

Kickoff events for the 2017 program started June 9 at the Juanita Gardine Elementary School on St. Croix, June 12 at Lockhart Elementary School on St. Thomas and tomorrow, June 13 at the Julius E. Sprauve School on St. John.

Those who would like further information are asked to visit www.readfive.org.