Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading Launches Virtual Reading Web Series

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The Campaign is finding new ways to motivate children to keep reading amid the pandemic

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting summer camps and other learning opportunities, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading has launched a series of 100 webisodes entitled “THIS BOOK IS COOL!” to encourage children to develop a love of reading.

As summer programs begin reopening at limited capacity, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, with support from The Patterson Foundation, is helping children from asset-limited families — or those unable to attend summer programs this year — stay connected to engaging reading opportunities throughout the summer and beyond. Each week, “THIS BOOK IS COOL!” will premiere new webisodes focused on books for children in grades Pre-K through third grade that feature surprise guests, selected vocabulary words and fun activities students can do at home. Additionally, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is providing up to 20 free books featured in the webisodes to qualifying students through generous funding from The Patterson Foundation.

“The pandemic has altered the way we foster connections that instill a love of reading in our children, particularly those from asset-limited families,” said Beth Duda, director of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for The Patterson Foundation. “This year, the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, along with The Patterson Foundation, has innovated to provide programming for students that can be used throughout this untraditional time and well into the future. ‘THIS BOOK IS COOL!’ is a gift to our region that affords an opportunity to learn and share new pathways to keep children engaged as our world continues to evolve.”

While anyone can access webisodes of “THIS BOOK IS COOL!,” parents must register their students to qualify for free books. Additionally, parents are asked to submit a weekly total of books their child reads.

Free books are available for students who meet the following criteria:

  • A resident of Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee or Sarasota County
  • Enrolled in Pre-K through third grade
  • Enrolled at a Title I school or eligible for free/reduced lunch
  • Not enrolled in a summer camp or summer program already participating in “THIS BOOK IS COOL!”

Reading proficiency is critical to a child’s success in school and in life. Focusing on summer learning is a key solution area of the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading because children — especially those from asset-limited families — can lose an average of more than two months in reading achievement over the summer, which slows their progress toward reading on grade level by the end of third grade — a crucial indicator of future success.

“THIS BOOK IS COOL!” is a new element of the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge, an annual effort presented by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading to help kids in our region avoid this “summer slide.” In 2019, 8,709 children participated in the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge through summer program providers throughout the region, successfully reading 198,570 books. Summer programs operating on-site and virtually that participate in the Suncoast Summer Reading Challenge are also eligible to receive “THIS BOOK IS COOL!” books and support from The Patterson Foundation.

The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is part of the nationwide Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, which guides early childhood literacy efforts in 300+ communities in 44 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada. The Patterson Foundation is the lead funder for the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a communitywide effort in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties. Additionally, the Foundation supports the national Campaign as an anchor funder.

For more information on “THIS BOOK IS COOL!” or to register your child, please visit https://www.gradelevelreadingsuncoast.net/project/this-book-is-cool/.

About Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading is a communitywide effort in Charlotte, DeSoto, Manatee and Sarasota counties to help all children, especially those from asset-limited families, succeed in school and life by ensuring they read on grade level by the end of third grade. For more information, please visit http://www.gradelevelreadingsuncoast.net.

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Branan Jacobs
MagnifyGood/The Patterson Foundation
+1 941-953-9191 Ext: 2
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