The Islamic Post Blog

Madinah Village Children Were Eager Summer Readers by Khalida
September 27, 2008, 4:59 am
Filed under: Education, Magazine/ Culture, Sept/Oct Volume - 2008

By Salimah Hunafa, Islamic Post Contributing  Writer

Madinah Village, GA– This summer all of the children who live in Madinah Village and the nearby town of Commerce, participated in a reading program for children ages 2-14.  Many children read as many as 50-100 books during the program, far exceeding the minimum reading requirement of 25 books over the summer.
Two parties were given to reward the children and the volunteers for their efforts over the summer. The parties consisted of two puppet shows, young ladies in the community singing Islamic songs, award ceremonies, a treasure hunt, books and goodie bags given to all participants, and community dinners.
The goals of the reading program were threefold: a) to give children an incentive to read during the summer; b) for children to develop essential reading skills and habits that lead to fluent reading, and strong comprehension; c) to develop a life long love of books and reading in children.
Reading is the foundation of all learning.  Children who do not read during the summer demonstrate a significant loss over the summer.  A summer reading loss of three months accumulates over the elementary grades and in several studies became a gap of 18 months by the end of sixth grade.  By middle school, summer reading losses produces a lag of two or more years in reading achievement, even when effective instruction during the school year is available.
Children lose ground in the summer in reading due to a number of reasons such as limited access to books and libraries, disinterest in reading due to early unsuccessful reading experiences (books either being too difficult or not challenging enough) for children.  These experiences make children feel unsuccessful and provide little incentive for children to persevere.
Reading with your child, reading to your child, and encouraging your child to read for recreation at least a ½ hour each day can turn this trend around. Recreational reading is reading that is not done to complete a class assignment.  It is reading something interesting, educational and that a child chooses to read.
Community members can create their own summer reading program with the help of volunteers and at least one coordinator.  It is important to cultivate a sense of community both within the program and around the idea of summer learning. As part of the Madinah Village summer reading program there were weekly story-time sessions for children ages 2-12 with each story-time session lasting for 1 hour, which included snacks and craft activities.  The story-time groups were divided based on ages, preschool ages (2-3); early childhood ages (4-6); elementary ages (7-12).  All of the story-time sessions were held in Madinah Village which made the program accessible and convenient for all families.
In order for any program to be successful, parental involvement is essential.  Undoubtedly, parents serve as the first, longest-lasting, and most important teachers in their children’s lives and are the number one motivator for summer reading participation (and many other learning experiences). Several of the ladies in Madinah Village volunteered to read to children of different age groups each week.  Maintaining consistency from day to day and week to week, allowing relationships between volunteers and participants to develop and grow throughout the summer is also beneficial to children’s development.
One way that children develop a love of reading is through seeing their parents and other significant adults in their lives reading regularly and who take the time to read to them.
Different methods of learning that can be included in any summer reading program, such as drama, storytelling, educational games, writing and journal exercises, field trips, group reading, art, and crafts activities.  Programs that incorporate some of these diverse components are more likely to catch students’ varied interests and keep them involved.


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