Each QCSD first grader receives new book as summer prize

All first graders in the Quakertown Community School District went home for sum­mer vaca­tion with a new book to read, com­pli­ments of the Quakertown Community Education Foundation.

The $3,000 project allowed the school dis­trict to give out 400 books to encour­age the young stu­dents to read over the near­ly three-month break.

First grade is such a cru­cial year for stu­dents in the devel­op­ment of their read­ing skills,” said Erin Oleska, the district’s super­vi­sor of lit­er­a­cy and arts. “They’re learn­ing to read books that actu­al­ly have a full plot. We believe this will help them con­tin­ue to grow as read­ers, and actu­al­ly learn to love to read.”

The con­cept was pro­posed about a year ago by QCEF’s Robert Leight, a for­mer school direc­tor, who described first grade as the “entry into lit­er­a­cy.”  QCEF President Bill Tuszynski said the idea began with “pro­vid­ing books to stu­dents who couldn’t afford them. But it’s dif­fi­cult to iden­ti­fy those stu­dents, and there could be a stig­ma attached to it. So the board decid­ed to do it for all of them.”

The book each child received was deter­mined by their teacher, based on the inter­est they’ve  shown in a cer­tain top­ic and their read­ing abil­i­ty.  Teachers have tak­en an active role in the pro­gram, Oleska said, devel­op­ing read­ing cel­e­bra­tion days. “It’s almost like a cer­e­mo­ny where the books are hand­ed out for the student’s hard work,” she said. “Teachers made sure the kids got the right books in their hands for the sum­mer.”

During Trumbauersville’s recent “book awards,” Oleska not­ed the smiles on the stu­dents’ faces as they received their prize. “It was a great thing to see,” she said.