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Delray Beach: Fight the summer slide by keeping rhymes supplied

Posted at 11:51 AM, May 18, 2017

When you pick up a book and read, it’s success you’ll breed. Delray Beach wants you to use rhymes as a way to encourage kids to read this summer.

The city and chamber of commerce launched a challenge organizers hope can go viral similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised money and awareness for ALS research.

The city has labeled its challenge “Read, rhythm and rhyme.”

Here’s how it works: You read a book with a child. Then come up with a rhyme, poem, song, or rap about the book. Finally, post a video of you reading the rhyme on social media including this hashtag #DelrayReadingChallenge. In your social media post challenge three friends to do the same thing.

“We’ve made this so everyone can participate in a way that’s meaningful and true to them,” explained Suzanne Spencer, the vice chair of he chamber’s education committee. She added you can do the challenge in any language.

Reading is a topic the city of Delray Beach has focused on. It partnered with the school district to help elementary students read on their grade level and is now a finalist for an All-America Award because of the results from that program.  

“We want to focus on reading and make it long-term fun for kids in our community,” said Michael Coleman, the city’s community improvement director.

By encouraging children to read once school gets out in early June, organizers hope to fight the “summer slide.” That’s the tern for a documented drop in a student’s progress over the summer.

Plumosa School of the Arts Principal Cathy Reynolds said teachers spend time backtracking at the beginning of the school year to help students get up to speed.

“We tell our parents to read to your child every day and find a different way to read. Read the cereal box in the morning, read the street signs as you’re driving, read in the morning, read in the evening, have your child read to you, and read to your child,” Reynolds advised.

C. Ron Allen operates the KOP Mentoring Network which helps children become leaders. He said it starts with helping them succeed in the classroom.

“We have to make learning fun for these kids,” Allen said. “The old traditional way of teaching them has to change. If they want to rap, if they want to rhyme, let’s make it fun.”

The chamber of commerce has helped fundraise for reading initiatives in the past. The president said helping students succeed now improves the future of the business community.

“When the business community can come alongside the city and schools and can support what they’re doing to keep our kids on track; that makes sense for everyone who lives here, works here and plays here,” Karen Granger said.

For more information on the reading challenge, click here.