Kilough Elementary was host last week to a Title I sponsored summer reading program through The Reading Warehouse.
Students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade-357 of them-were given the opportunity to choose three books along with a tote bag and a comprehension journal, all for no charge.
"The kids have been seen getting out of cars and off the bus every morning with their books ever since they picked them out," said Hillary Mullinax who is the Title I coordinator and gifted lead teacher at KES. "Their excitement has been so contagious and many of them are spending their free time reading, which is exactly what we had hoped for."
Giving the books away on May 15 and 16 has sparked the young readers, but the Kilough staff is hoping it will do more.
"Research tells us that students can lose up to half of what they've learned in a school year over summer break, so it's important to read, read, read and keep that knowledge fresh," said Mullinax.
The school also provided a handout of reading strategies for parents that will help them advance their child's reading proficiency.
The strategies include how to model appropriate reading, questions to ask and how to tackle unfamiliar words.
"Building this parent capacity is hugely important to KES as we want parents to feel empowered and capable of helping their child succeed," she said. "Parents want to help their child, but aren't always sure of how to go about it."
This is the first time KES has offered a summer reading program and Mullinax said that the intention is to continue it in the future.
"Our funding is based on our student population, so we are not guaranteed the same amount of funds each year," she said.
Title I is part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and provides financial assistance to local educational agencies and schools with high percentages of children from low-income families to help be sure that state academic standards are met.
It is intended to close the achievement gap and school data helps decide how funds are used.
All of the Dawson County schools have Title I funds, but each school uses those funds differently.
"We are always trying to solicit feedback from parents during Title I events and through school surveys so that they have a voice as well," Mullinax said.
Mullinax said that parents are invited to join the school's Title I team to see the data, budget and provide feedback.