Twenty-five to 30 students return to Thomas Jefferson Elementary School each week to exchange books at the lending library
The library at Thomas Jefferson Elementary School is quiet most summer days, but on Wednesdays, the room begins to fill with students eager to return and exchange books through the “Books and a Bonus” lending library program.
Each week, 25 to 30 students walk through the school’s library doors between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Principal Gary Breen said. The three-year-old program aims to enhance student-reading abilities during the summer while they are out of school, allowing access to a variety books for free to take and return.
“One of the worries everyone has is summer slide; when kids are away from school, there is a tendency for them to lose critical reading skills,” said Beth Neiderman, elementary supervisor and creator of the program. “What we’ve found is not only have kids not lost skills, but in a lot of cases, we’ve seen kids gain in reading over the summer because they are in a routine of reading.”
At the end of the 2016–17 school year, kindergarten through fourth-grade students at Thomas Jefferson took home a bag of books, purchased through scholastic book dollars donated by the PTO. Students were invited every Wednesday throughout the summer to exchange their books.
“It’s been great to see some families come in as part of their regular routine, some stop in once or twice throughout the summer,” Neiderman said. “It’s also great for us to keep in touch with our students throughout the summer and see them in the building.”
Familiarity of the school and its staff was one of the reasons first grader Drew Hamilton and his mom Jennifer participated in the lending library program.
“We wanted to make sure we didn’t regress because he was reading so well at the end of the school year,” Hamilton said. “He gets nervous, so this way we are in the school, in the library, seeing everybody and we get to pick out books that keep it fresh and interesting for him.”
hile at the library, students are able to quiz their understanding and knowledge of what they are reading through Accelerated Reader tests on the computer. Neiderman said the tests gauge what the students are reading and allows them to keep track of how well they know the books they are bringing home.
Students exchanging books are also given a bonus for their participation, such as coupons for mozzarella sticks or ice cream donated from community businesses, Neiderman said.
First grader Briella Laun said she had visited the library four times, bringing home four books each trip, totaling at least 16 books read this summer. Her favorite, she said, were books about bugs. Third grader Charlotte Fjellin estimated she had read between 10 and 15 books since school ended in June.
First-grade special education teacher Beth Buono and her children have volunteered every week this summer at the lending library.
“In the summer, there is often the summer slide, so being here and allowing the kids to come in, get a few books, and stay on top of their reading so they are ready for when they come back is important,” Buono said.
The scholastic books available are organized in guided reading levels, starting with A and moving up in difficulty to Z.
“Usually, I just take a look and find what I find,” third grader Griffin Ryan said on how he chooses the books he brings home each week. “I like reading because it helps you learn lots of facts in nonfiction, and it’s a really good story in fiction books.”
The lending library is open each week until the start of school in the fall when the books are then distributed to classroom libraries for children to read throughout the school year.