Students spent over 1 million minutes reading

NASHUA — Nashua School District students read for more than 1 million minutes during the summer, according to data provided by Nashua Public Library Assistant Director Jenn Hosking.

Now in its second year of existence, the Nashua School District and Nashua Public Library partnership for a summer reading program has created goals to strengthen reading skills and reduce summer learning loss, while also providing all students the opportunity to “participate in enrichment activities fostering positive social connections, expression and knowledge gain.”

This summer, students who participated in the library’s galaxy-themed summer reading program were encouraged to log the minutes they spent reading. For every minute they read, they got an opportunity to earn books, raffle tickets, Hayward’s Ice Cream coupons, Chunky’s Cinema and Pub gift cards, a bicycle, “alien oil” and other toys.

The library hosted events for students of all ages throughout the summer to get students excited about reading.

As proven by data Hosking provided to the Nashua Board of Education during its recent Curriculum and Evaluation Committee meeting, it worked.

Pre-K to fifth grade participation saw a 34% increase, while it grew 16% for those in grades 6-12.

In addition, nine of the 12 elementary schools had an increase in student participation, and six of those schools were Title I schools.

Hosking said the partnership had an even bigger impact than last year. She attributed it to several initiatives.

Last year, officials presented to all of the district’s third, fourth and fifth-grade students. This year, based on feedback, they decided to expand their presentations and library staff presented on the program to the district’s second through eighth-grade students.

Hosking said, “We had a lot of energy and excitement created through those presentations.”

They also partnered with the district’s Power Scholars Academy and had staff visit all three of the sites each week.

Hosking said she thought one of the most successful aspects of the program was its weekly pop-up libraries.

“That was one of the approaches we took to try to reach students in some of the inner city neighborhoods who could potentially not find transportation to the library,” Hosking said.

This year, organizers hosted eight pop-up libraries at various locations throughout the city including the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Nashua, Centennial Pool, Fairgrounds Pool, Girls Inc./Crown Hill Pool and Police Athletic League.

District staff, as well as Nashua Public Library staff, joined to help run the pop-up libraries. They were able to stock the pop-up libraries with the help of district librarians who lent the books for the summer.

“I thought it was amazing, the commitment they were making, many of them on their own time, to come and meet the students,” Hosking said.

She said all the numbers in the report show improvement from last year, but according to Hosking, there was also improvement that couldn’t be shown through statistics.

“Really, we want them to participate in the summer reading program and we want them to log, but what’s more important is that they’re taking those books for their own collection, so whether they’re participating in the summer reading program or not, they all get to take books,” Hosking said.

The information received positive feedback from Nashua Board of Education members.

“I’m glad to see we have so many teachers who are willing to give up time during the summer to help out with the reading,” board member Elizabeth Van Twuyver said.

Board member Howard Coffman said he found it innovative that they brought the library to the community, as he was impressed with the participation from both the staff and community. He suggested finding a way to provide support for next year through the budget.

“You’re clearly making a strong contribution to the community,” Coffman said.

“What you’re doing is fabulous and I’m glad to hear it,” board member Doris Hohensee told Hosking.

“For me the most important thing is that we are trying to create kids who love reading,” board member Susan Porter added.

Grace Pecci may be reached at 594-1243 or gpecci@nashuatelegraph.com.