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Guest Column

Summer time is reading time

summer reading by Richard W. Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education
Studies show that over the summer, students can lose up to three to four months of the reading and writing skills they acquired during the school year.
   That's why it's so important to keep students reading over the summer months, even for only 30 minutes a day. Kids can still read and have plenty of time for playing ball, swimming, and other summer activities.
   Here are some tips:
   Read to your young children and share books with your older children.
   Make a place for newspapers, magazines, and books in your home. Read the important news stories of the day with your children, or the sports page or the family section. Let your children lead the way--ask them to pick out something that interests them.
   Take your children to the library and make sure they get a card. Show them that there are other places in the world to visit besides the video arcade at the mall.
   Limit TV viewing.
   Ask your children to write to relatives and friends. If you have access to a computer, have them send regular e-mail messages, because in this day and age, literacy means computer literacy, too.
   Participate in READ*WRITE*NOW!, the summer reading initiative sponsored by the National Partnership for Family Involvement in Education. READ*WRITE*NOW! encourages children to practice their reading and writing for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for eight weeks throughout June, July, and August. Children also team up with a learning partner who provides extra guidance at least once a week for 30 minutes.
   Children are also encouraged to get and use a library card and learn at least one new word every day. And when they've completed their eight weeks of learning, they can get a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut as a special reward.
   The U.S. Department of Education, in cooperation with the other members of the Partnership for Family Involvement in Education, is producing and distributing READ*WRITE*NOW! kits with how-to materials, activities books, and bookmarks. The kits, which are free, are right for children in kindergarten through sixth grade.
   You can get READ*WRITE*NOW! kits in June at your local library or at your local Reading is Fundamental (RIF) site. Or you can get kits through the Internet or by calling the U.S. Department of Education. The Internet address is http://www.ed.gov. The Department's toll-free number is 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872-5327).