Program promotes summer reading to boost comprehension levels for SC students

Published: May. 18, 2023 at 4:55 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - As the summer approaches, the potential for a decline in students’ reading comprehension and skills is a possibility.

Lowcountry author Sherika Meyers and South Carolina State Rep. Deon Tedder (D-Charleston) are teaming up to address the so-called “summer slide” through an innovative reading program. They are hoping the program keeps Charleston County School District students engaged in reading during the summer months.

Recognizing the importance of continuous learning and the impact of summer reading on children’s educational development, Meyers highlights the challenges some students face in reading below their grade level.

“We know that summer reading is very important to help kids continue to learn reading comprehension and other skills throughout the summer,” Meyers said.

To make reading more exciting and accessible, Meyers plans to distribute 800 books to schools in South Carolina. The initiative intends to provide students with the opportunity to take books home and continue reading even when not attending summer programs. While schools typically have libraries, Meyers believes having books available at home further enhances the accessibility and convenience for students.

Tedder, a member of the education committee in Columbia, acknowledged the sobering reality that many South Carolina students have reading levels below what is expected for their grade, especially by the time they reach middle school.

Tedder expressed his support for Meyers’ program, viewing it as a positive step forward in addressing this issue. Providing books for students to take home and read independently can foster a love for reading and contribute to improving their reading skills.

Meyers, who has been writing books for the past four years, shared her motivation behind becoming an author. Having grown up with a speech impediment, she wanted to create a book series that not only promotes self-esteem and self-confidence but also resilience among children facing challenges. One of her popular series is the “Herbie” books, including titles such as “Herbie Goes to School,” “Herbie’s New Friend,” and a Spanish version of “Herbie Goes to School.”

Tedder, who has observed the growth and effectiveness of Meyers’ program over the years, reached out to offer his support in expanding its reach. Tedder emphasized the importance of shining a light on such initiatives to benefit South Carolina’s students. He praised the “Herbie” book series for its ability to teach children that being different does not make them odd but rather shows their uniqueness, encouraging self-esteem and acceptance. “It’s important that we you know, bring these things to light for our kids and with these books not only with the speech impediment but what it teaches children is that if you are different that doesn’t mean you know, you’re an odd person. It just shows that you’re special in your own way and it’s to encourage self-esteem for students who are different from others,” said Representative Tedder.

Several schools have been chosen to participate in Meyers’ program, including Meeting Street at Burns, Sanders Clyde, North Charleston Elementary, and Ashley Rivers Creative Arts School. Meyers explained that they specifically selected three Title One schools within the Charleston County School District and decided to keep all the books within the district.