This exciting initiative was introduced in Sept. 2011 to help encourage kids to read more and recognize their reading achievements when they have reached the reading goals set by their media specialists, teachers and/or principals through their school’s reading incentive programs. Depending on the school and program, students may earn books throughout the school year to take home and keep.
How it works: In Collier County Public Schools, two reading programs may be promoted, especially at the elementary school level — Reading Counts and Sunshine State Young Reader Award Books (or SSYRA). Students may earn a book donated by K is for Kids when they reach a certain number of points with Reading Counts or after reading a certain number of books of SSYRA. When the students earn a book, they may go to their school library to choose amongst books their media specialists has personally selected from K is for Kids’ inventory of books or with grant monies the foundation provides through Rising Readers.
Bonus: Students’ self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-accomplishment soar as they earn books to take home and keep and build their own personal libraries. And each time the young honorees sees their book(s), they feel proud of the treasures they are collecting and awards they are earning.
So often children talk about how much they love getting “real” books that they can see, touch, and even smell. One young boy said he enjoyed reading eBooks, but when he has to turn in the iPad at the end of the school year, he said, “I loose all those books I’ve read!”
End-of-the-Year Rising Reader Book Awards:
This is K is for Kids’ most popular reading program with teachers, principals and parents, and especially with the young honorees!
In 2017, students in 32* Collier County public schools were honored with book awards as their school’s “top” readers or rising readers – books the young honorees got to choose themselves with the help of their teachers or media specialists. *(up from 27 in 2016). Some students get to go on a special field trip to Barnes & Noble in Naples to shop for their books, an experience that is often life changing as all too often the children have never been to a book store before. Afterwards, the youngsters may be given a complimentary lunch, courtesy of California Pizza Kitchen.
HISTORY: Rising Readers began in a fun way for students:
K is for Kids sponsored a pep rally for students given by the media specialist at Golden Terrace Elementary-Intermediate in Naples. Tiffany “TJ” Weeks dressed up as a super reader! K is for Kids’ founder Karen Clawson was there, cheering the third, fourth and fifth graders to “Power Up with Reading!” Each student who pledged to read a book within the time set by Mrs. Weeks had the opportunity to choose a new book to take home and keep, compliments of Rising Readers.
Focus School – Golden Terrace Intermediate has been K is for Kids’ Focus School for Rising Readers since 2011 and Golden Terrace Primary has been since 2012.
Golden Terrace Elementary continues to be the focus school for Rising Readers and the results have proven remarkable: Both TJ at Intermediate and Joyce Cordell at Primary continue to report the empowering impact K is for Kids is having on their students listing a heightened interest in reading, higher student lexile levels, larger numbers of students participating in the school’s reading incentive programs, and a dramatic increase in the number of books being checked out by students. These achievements are even more significant because many of the children are from families where English is not the first language spoken in the home, and the children may often struggle with not only speaking English, but reading it. Also, as the majority of children are enrolled in a lunch assistance program, books are not a luxury their parents can afford to buy; thus the children often think books are boring – they “have to” read a textbook and there’s usually a test next!
In Jan. 2013, to launch K is for Kids’ “Bring a Book, Bring a Friend” literacy month, the Foundation arrived at the school with a bookmobile and every student got to climb onboard and choose a new book to take home and keep.
That year, K is for Kids’ end-of-the-year Top Rising Readers Book Awards was expanded too with a field trip of GTES Intermediate’s top readers to Waterside Shops’Barnes & Noble, California Pizza Kitchen, and even the Apple store: http://www.kisforkids.org/uncategorized/top-readers-enjoy-unique-field-trip-to-apple-store-more/
The number of schools participating also continued to grow. For ex., students at Sabal Palm Elementary were also recognized as Top Readers in 2013 recognizing their achievements in the school’s Scholar Bowl. Students received their books during their Literacy on the Lawn event: Florida Gulf Coast University (aka “Dunk City”) Men’s Basketball player Eric McKnight appeared on behalf of K is for Kids to congratulate winners of the “battle of the books”: http://www.kisforkids.org/news/dunk-citys-eric-mcknight-meets-with-students-at-sabal-palm-elementary/
Encouraging Rising Readers served by other nonprofits, too.