Combating the ‘Summer Slide’

SAN BENITO — It’s working.

The community and school district have teamed up to create a positive atmosphere to promote reading.

This summer, the school district will launch a reading program so unique it has never been done in San Benito.

So far, with the limited audience it has now, it’s already working for the community and the district.

In an effort to combat what is known as the “summer slide,” Superintendent Adrian Vega proposed last month the district allow its online library full of books to be used by students in pre-kindergarten all the way through eighth grade.

District leaders were fascinated with the project as soon as it was mentioned.

By using a website called myON, students can remain engaged for the three months they are not in school. It’s like Netflix for books.

The online database that is used by school districts all over the state allows children to pick and choose what kind of books they want to read.

“It enhances and bolsters support for what we already have,” said Vega. “It fills in the hole and gives families access to thousands of books.”

Students will log on and take an assessment to determine their reading level and interests.

From there, students will also get notification after they finish a book, of other books “you might also like.”

The website has about 60,000 books, making the children the controller of their summer reading list.

“Research shows that if kids read at least five books over the summer, that helps deter the summer slide,” Vega said.

School leaders assure the online database will coincide with the summer school program for those who are having trouble reading and need to be part of an intensive program.

The online database also has the ability to read to the students, helping with language development.

The district and the city plan to make it easier for the community to access this database and others like it.

A few weeks ago, during the district’s first parent conference in 12 years, about 500 Kindle readers were given to parents.

“We are asking community members to work with us,” said Julie Trevino, Executive Director of Academic Services.

One person even donated funds, allowing the district to purchase 30 additional Kindle readers and cases.

The need is growing stronger, especially for those students in the rural areas.

“There is a need to provide service to students in the Los Indios area because they have about a 5- to 8-mile distance between Los Indios and the campuses,” Trevino said. “We are hoping to get those devices to those kids.”

The district will work with the online database to obtain a general log in pass that would be made available to people in the community.

From there, with the added participation and awareness for reading, the district plans to challenge people to read.

“Hey San Benito lets read 5,000 books or 10,000 books,” Trevino said. “We want to get people to understand the importance of reading.”

By the Numbers

500 electronic readers have been given to fami-lies.

60,000 books in the myOn library.

7,500 students will have access to myOn.