The state and several community partners are offering a variety of prizes as part of a summer reading contest designed to encourage and improve New Mexico children’s literacy. Gov. Susana Martinez last week announced the launch of four “Summer Reading Challenges.”
The reading challenges are designed to stop the “summer slide,” during which students often lose a portion of their reading proficiency while out of school and must catch up on their skills when they return to school in August, according to the state Public Education Department.
“Learning to read well at an early age is critical to academic success and, ultimately, to success in the workplace and in life,” said Martinez. “I am incredibly excited by the tremendous community involvement and partnerships that we have developed in creating and launching these reading challenges, and I’m hopeful New Mexico students will read throughout the summer and take advantage of the neat prizes and adventures we have in store for them.”
Three of the reading challenges are brand new, and the fourth is an existing summer reading program that the State is joining as a partner. Under each program, students who read six books will receive a few small prizes, and those who choose to read an additional six books (and in some cases, submit a short write-up) will receive further awards and be eligible to win a grand prize.
Grand prizes for winning students will include opportunities such as riding in a hot air balloon with the governor, serving as a junior zookeeper for a day at the ABQ BioPark, throwing out the first pitch at an Albuquerque Isotopes game, meeting the Lobos basketball head coach and being recognized on the floor of The Pit before a basketball game, participating in a “New Mexico True” family vacation to places like Ruidoso and Red River, working on a fossil dig at a New Mexico dig site, and even going on an all-expenses-paid family trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla.
State education officials have made efforts to promote reading and improve childhood literacy since last year when they launched the “New Mexico Reads to Lead” initiative designed to assist teachers and parents in identifying in what areas students in kindergarten through third grade are struggling in their literacy learning so that they can receive help. The program includes requiring the state’s school districts and charter schools to develop their own comprehensive reading plans, supplying reading coaches at schools throughout the state and offering information to help parents encourage young children to read and help them improve their reading skills.
Details about each contest in the state’s Summer Reading Challenge can be found at www.ped.state.nm.us/ped/ReadingChallenge.
To learn more about the New Mexico Reads to Lead initiative, go to www.literacynewmexico.com.