North Syracuse For many students, school-assigned summer reading is a thing to dread, something boring and time-consuming that interrupts the carefree fun of summer.
But the North Syracuse Central School District is trying to change that.
This summer, the district is launching a Community Read program, which invites kids in grades seven through 12, as well as adults and younger children, to read a book and discuss it together, making summer reading a more interesting and accessible experience.
Lisa Voegler, a reading teacher for the district who is acting as program coordinator, said past initiatives have limited students to specific books or authors from which they must choose.
“Our Community Summer Read is different from other reading programs because we want students, parents, teachers, grandparents, and any other community members to join us in reading a common book,” Voegler said. “However, the most important goal is to get kids reading something they enjoy and are interested in during the summer months.”
Because it involves the whole community, such a project lets kids see the value in reading.
“It helps them understand that reading is a pleasurable, meaningful, activity that can be shared with others,” Voegler said. “It lets them know that their thoughts and ideas are important.”
And it’s not just the students that benefit.
“Our community benefits from the shared experience of something interesting and positive we can talk about together,” Voegler said. “It shows the world that we are a community that cares about literacy and instilling that value in our youth.”
This summer’s program evolved from a reading assignment at the North Syracuse Junior High School. Students read John Green’s “A Fault in Our Stars,” which is about two young cancer patients who meet and fall in love. The book was recently made into a movie.
“As a teacher, I have never seen students talking about a book to each other outside of class the way they did this book,” Voegler said. “They were talking in lunch, in other classes, to each other, and to teachers. The whole school was talking about this book.”