Fighting the 'summer slide'

Jul. 13—WILKES-BARRE — About 30 preschool children sat wide-eyed as they listened to a reading of "Summer Days and Summer Nights," by Wong Herbert Lee.

It was a special event for the 3-to-6-year-olds at the Greater Wyoming Valley YMCA in Wilkes-Barre.

Jennifer R. Deemer, Vice President of Community Impact at the United Way of Wyoming Valley, said for National Summer Learning Week, the United Way of Wyoming Valley has scheduled guest readers to read to children at day camps and early learning centers from July 12-14 throughout the Wyoming Valley

"This weeklong celebration elevates the importance of keeping kids reading throughout the summer months, ensuring that they return to school in the fall ready to succeed," Deemer said. "During Summer Learning Week, the United Way focuses on preparing children for kindergarten, encouraging parents and caregivers to read to children so they can practice their early literacy skills and help prevent summer learning loss."

Deemer said the United Way of Wyoming Valley has coordinated a series of guest reader opportunities to shine a spotlight on the importance of summer learning.

"The guest readers are not just reading a book to children, but also raising awareness about the need to ensure that children are connected to literacy resources, and are practicing their early literacy skills to ensure that they make progress during the summer break instead of losing ground," Deemer said. "When the school year ends, children in high-poverty environments struggle not only with basic needs, but with losing time during the summer to continue their learning. The cumulative effect can leave low-income students two to three months behind their peers. This is what we call the 'summer slide.' Encouraging young children to read will help close the gap and help them be more prepared to enter kindergarten or return to the classroom this fall."

Tuesday's event kicked off a series of guest reader opportunities at day camps and early learning centers across the Wyoming Valley. More than 20 volunteer readers will visit 16 local sites and read to approximately 320 children ages 3-13 through the program. The guest reader event shines a spotlight on National Summer Learning Week and the importance of reading throughout the summer months.

John F. Nolan, Circulation Marketing and Sales Specialist for Times Leader Media Group, read to the preschool children at the YMCA Tuesday morning.

Regarding "Summer Days and Nights," the book's website states:

"On a hot summer day, a little girl finds ways to entertain herself and stay cool. She catches a butterfly, sips lemonade, jumps in a pool, and goes on a picnic. At night, she sees an owl in a tree and a frog in a pond, and hears leaves rustling. Before long, she's fast asleep, dreaming about more summer days and summer nights."

The other guest readers are:

Sergeant John VanWhy, Hanover Twp. Police Dept.

Roseann Nardone, Community Member

Peter Danchak, PNC Bank

Gershom Spengler, Waterfront Professional Park

Sally Barnes, Community Member

Chelsea Strub, WNEP

Catherine O'Donnell, O'Donnell Law Offices

Bill Jones, United Way of Wyoming Valley

Lindsay Griffin, Greater Wyoming Valley Chamber of Commerce

Dr. Greg Cant, Wilkes University

Monica Morrison, Wilkes University

Officer Joseph Homza, Wilkes-Barre City Police Dept.

Mark Hiller, WBRE

Lisa Fuller, Benco Dental

Paul Rushton, Rosenn Jenkins & Greenwald, LLP

Rep. Aaron Kaufer, Pa. State Representative

Michelle Beckhorn, Community Services for Children, Inc.

Judge Jennifer Rogers, Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas

Don Brominski, UGI Utilities, Inc.

Jessica Cronauer, Leadership Northeast

Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.