K-Beach Elementary 5th grader Emma Mullet is the 2013 Queen of Reading and promises a well read reign for the coming year. Mullet obtained her crown by reading over 11,000 minutes during summer break, more than any other student or teacher at K-Beach. Reading Is Great in Summer (RIGS) was started 13 years ago by 1st grade teacher Gloria Sweeney and two colleagues working on their Masters thesis. “As first grade teachers we realized how much effort we put in each year teaching students to read and knowing that it takes practice, practice, practice to improve reading skills and that if they stop reading the skills regress when they return to school in the Fall. So our program was designed to jazz them up in the spring getting them excited about reading over the summer so that when they come back in the fall they haven’t lost as much ground and are ready to take off when school starts,” said Sweeney.
Certainly the beautiful sunny summer was a challenge to any book but the new K-Beach Queen said not for her, “I’m not much of an outdoor person so reading is my thing wherever I am and of course there are no mosquitoes inside. My favorite book of the summer was Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick it’s a historical fiction/picture book about a boy who goes deaf and then finds his grandmother who is also deaf and how their lives play out,” said Emma. “As a result of my reading this summer I’m reading harder books now and also reading way more and knowing a lot more words,” she added.
From its inception RIGS has been a community supported program with Soldotna Rotary Club, Tesoro and the Ladies Auxiliary of VFW Post 10046 providing books, T-shirts and rewards for all RIGS participants, “We really appreciate our community sponsors because I think the community realizes that if we can get our children excited about reading and learning its better for all of us,” said Sweeney. As part of the coronation ceremony the K-Beach teachers and staff danced to a parody of the nineteen sixties hit song “I’m a Believer” re-writing the lyric to state, “I’m a good reader.” The summer reading program at K-Beach has now grown to include Redoubt Elementary and next year Soldotna Elementary, “Each school will have their own unique program and will be different depending on what their staff wants to do in putting it together but the bottom line is getting kids to keep reading during the summer,” said Sweeney.