New Haven students start summer reading season with a splash

NEW HAVEN, Conn (WTNH) — They call it “Make a Splash with Summer Reading”. The idea is to make sure New Haven students have the books they need to keep their minds sharp of vacation.

That’s why the courtyard of King-Robinson Magnet School had a dunk tank in it Wednesday morning, with teachers taking turns inside, and students paying a dollar for a chance to throw a baseball at the target. While the chance to dunk a teacher is the draw, there is another reason for all the fun. At a safe distance from the splashing are tables of books, because as much as these kids love dunking teachers, they love reading more.

“No matter what book, it’s always a page turner, it always makes you want to read more of it, or there’s a twist,” said 4th grader Nina Peterson.

“You imagine the story in your head,” explained Alaia Aquino, another 4th grader. “If you don’t understand, you can just imagine it.”

The idea of splashing into summer is to keep that enthusiasm going.

“The research shows the more access kids have to books, the more likely they are to pick one up to read them, so we wanted to make sure on our end that we provided those books with the hope of picking one up,” said King-Robinson Magnet School literacy specialist Lisa Herb.

New Haven schools got publishers to donate books for kids in all the city’s schools. Younger readers get little backpacks with books to keep them interested.

“I like to see stuff that I never saw before,” is why Pre-K student Jesse Schwartz says he likes reading.

King-Robinson is taking the summer reading challenge a step further. For the younger kids, once they read the books in their backpacks, they can fill out “reading bingo” cards that prove they have read everything. That makes them eligible for a raffle at the end of the summer for a free bike. It’s all to keep these young brains from forgetting what they’ve learned.

“We call that the summer slide and we’re trying to prevent some of that summer slide by providing these books,” said Herb.

“You have to learn in your brain,” said Trevon Williams. He is in Kindergarten, and has plans to read lots of books this summer. That way he can make a splash when he comes back to school in the fall.

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