Reading and math don’t always go together outside of a word problem, but this year they’re like peas and carrots as The Missourian and the Community Literacy Foundation continue their effort to have this area declared “the best read community in America” with the One More Page project.
The goal is to have people all across the newspaper’s readership area collectively log 1 million pages by the end of the year. At the last official count a couple of weeks ago, we had logged just under 150,000 pages.
But with summer just around the corner, The Missourian is calling on students to lead the charge by participating in its annual Missourian In Education summer reading program and winning a ticket to the Washington Town & Country Fair in the process.
In years past, the newspaper provided the content for students to read as part of the program, but this year, students can read whatever books, newspapers or magazines they want — as long as they read enough.
Students ages 5 to 15 who read at least 250 pages between May 23 and July 18 and submit their reading logs by the deadline will receive a free child’s ticket to the Washington Town & Country Fair for Thursday, Aug. 6.
That may sound like a lot of pages to read all at once, but it breaks down to less than 32 pages a week.
And the exciting thing is that if all of the students in The Missourian’s readership area participated, that alone would result in nearly 4 million pages read by the end of July.
“By our calculations, there are about 15,977 students in our readership area,” said Dawn Kitchell, The Missourian’s educational services director and chair of the Community Literacy Foundation. “We are asking each student to read 250 pages over eight weeks, so that multiplies out to 3,994,250 pages.
“If every student just read one picture book a week, we would far exceed our goal for the One More Page project,” Kitchell said.
She knows it’s unlikely that all 15,977 students will participate, but even if only a fraction do, that will push the project beyond its goal of 1 million pages.
“I’m really hoping that the youth of our area are going to help us get there,” she remarked.
Actually, it’s youth who are already leading the way in the One More Page project. Readers ages 19 and under account for the most pages logged to date, said Kitchell.
The Missourian’s youth literacy program, Missourian In Education, initiated the summer reading program in the newspaper in 2000 in partnership with the Bank of Franklin County. This summer marks the 20th year the two have been working to keep children reading through the summer.
“The importance of encouraging children to read, comprehend and validate, especially during the summer months, will allow them to excel in life,” said Bob Dobsch, president and CEO of Bank of Franklin County. “We live in a world where technology and sound bites have shortened our attention span. The significance of opening a child’s mind through the power of reading is necessary now more than ever.
“We are proud to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Summer Reading Program in partnership with The Missourian,” he added. “Our community is extremely fortunate to have a local news source that values children’s literacy.”
For more than a dozen years, the Washington Town & Country Fair has helped by providing Fair tickets as an incentive for reading.
Summer Reader Booklet
To get started with the One More Page Summer Reading Challenge, students should pull out the Summer Reader Booklet inserted in this issue of The Missourian.
The booklet includes the reading log students will need to keep track of their page count and ultimately submit to the Washington Town & Country Fair office by July 24 in order to receive their free ticket to the fair.
A completed page log also enters a student in a drawing to win one of two grand prize reading baskets that are filled with Book Buzz Picks, a season pass to the 2021 Washington Town & Country Fair, $50 gift certificates to Neighborhood Reads provided by the Bank of Franklin County, and more.
Along with the page log, the booklet includes details on the many book recommendation columns that are featured each month in The Missourian, as well as information on the summer reading programs being offered this year at both Scenic Regional and Washington Public libraries, and the daily schedule for the Family Fun Center at the Washington Town & Country Fair.
Too Important to Miss a Year
Like so many event organizers trying to plan things in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kitchell admits there have been challenges — fewer opportunities to share the materials with students, having to cancel the scheduled kickoff party in May, and questions about the fair going forward. But in the end, she felt it was too important to cancel.
“Our goal is to keep kids reading over the summer, and we really felt like this was something that was going to be difficult after the abrupt way schools ended for our children,” Kitchell said.
Nelson Appell, director of the Washington Public Library, agreed.
“We’ve always felt it was important to offer the summer reading program to help the schools for the summer, to keep students and adults reading, and it’s even more important this year, with the school year ending early and parents having shifted to partial homeschool learning,” said Appell. “I think it’s really important that we support this new model for parents, that we provide something to get kids and adults excited about reading.”
Washington Public Library will operate its summer reading program for children and adults online this year through Beanstack, which provides software for libraries to do reading challenges and has app to make it easy for people to use. Washington has purchased a three-year license.
Patrons will be able to complete the challenge, if they have access to the internet, without coming into the library much at all, aside from picking up books they have requested, said Appell.
They can register online at washmolib.org beginning May 18. The program will be held June 1 through July 24.
The goal for children and teens will be to read as many minutes as they can. For each hour of reading they do and input into Beanstack, they will unlock a badge which will enter them into a drawing to win gift certificates to Downtown Washington Inc.
They also can earn badges by writing reviews of the books.
The Missourian In Education summer reading program, which is sponsored by The Missourian, the Bank of Franklin County and the Washington Town & Country Fair, has come up with a contingency plan should the fair be canceled as a result of COVID-19. The Bank of Franklin County will reward students who complete the Summer Reading Program with a $5 gift certificate to Neighborhood Reads bookstore.
If there is a Fair, plans are to bring back the reading nook that was located inside the home ec building at last year’s Washington Town & Country Fair. It was a popular spot where families could take a break from the hustle and bustle (and heat) of the fairgrounds and spend some quiet time together reading.
Of course, there will be a reading log in the nook where families can make a note of how many pages they read so that those numbers can be added to the official One More Page tally.
Challenge Everyone to Read (and Log Their Pages)
Although the Missourian In Education summer reading program is only open to children ages 5 to 15 (since those are the ages that qualify for a child’s ticket at the Washington Town & Country Fair), students are encouraged to challenge their parents, grandparents and other adults to read and log their pages this summer too.
“One More Page is a community reading challenge — and we need readers of all ages to keep track of their reading and log their pages,” Kitchell said. “We really hope our summer reading program will nudge families to challenge each other and drive reading in every home.”
Kids must submit their printed logs to win prizes, but everyone, children and adults, who want to participate in the One More Page community reading challenge have several options for logging their pages:
1. Go to www.emissourian.com/onemorepage. There you can input your first name and the number of pages you have read for that week, month or however long it has been since you last reported your pages.
There is a spot to input what you’re reading. That input is optional, but reading trends will be shared in the newspaper.
2. Adults can complete a paper log and turn it in to Neighborhood Reads bookstore at 401 Lafayette St. or Washington Public Library at 410 Lafayette St., both in Downtown Washington.
Printed copies of the log are available at Neighborhood Reads or the Washington library. You can also just submit your page counts on paper to either location with the same basic information.
3. Children who submit their forms the Summer Reader Challenge can leave the logging to the contest organizers (there is a box to check) or they can log online as well as on their forms.
For more information on One More Page, go to the Community Literacy Foundation’s website at www.communityliteracyfoundation.org or read a feature story that appeared in the March 14-15 issue of The Missourian at www.emissourian.com.