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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: Avoiding The "Summer Slide" In Reading

Sehvilla Mann

The Kalamazoo Public Schools and the Kalamazoo Public Library are expanding their efforts to promote reading and head off the so-called "summer slide." That's the drop-off in reading skills among kids who don't read much, if anything, over the long summer break.

Kalamazoo School Superintendent Michael Rice says the district will send 32,000 free books home to students in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grades over the summer. He says that's one way to keep kids reading until school starts again in the fall. And Rice says KPS encourages students to participate in the library's "Summer Reading Challenge," which offers prizes to give incentives to kids to keep reading while they are on vacation.

The Kalamazoo School District and the Kalamazoo Public Library are also joining forces to offer the "OneCard" program starting this fall. That card serves as a student ID in school as well as a library card. Rice says that will get library cards into the hands of "thousands" of kids who don't have them now. He says the "OneCard" initiative helps overcome obstacles to getting library services, especially for students from low-income families who don't have fixed home addresses.

Rice says, "What students read over the summer is their business. That they read is our business."

Students at two KPS schools won't have a long summer break this year. Rice says the Washington Writers Academy and Woodward School for Technology and Research will head back to class on July 23. He says that's another way to avoid the "summer slide." Both schools had been targeted for closure by the State School Reform Office because of low student test scores, although that was avoided through an agreement between the state and several districts.

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Andy Robins has been WMUK's News Director since 1998 and a broadcast journalist for over 24 years. He joined WMUK's staff in 1985. Under his direction, WMUK has received numerous awards for news reporting.
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