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Hall schools launch new summer reading initiatives

POSTED: May 15, 2013 12:47 a.m.

Chestatee High School media specialist Jennifer Parker points to the proposed flame graphics on a mock-up of the school's bookmobile project.

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Even though children aren’t going to be able to visit their school library over the summer, there are still plenty of opportunities to hone their reading skills.

Hall County students can take advantage of several summer reading programs aiming to help them access books and reading materials with greater ease.

In addition to promoting the public Hall County Library System, the school system launched several new summer reading initiatives Tuesday morning.

Jennifer Parker, media specialist at Chestatee High School, said reading has a positive impact on students in all subject areas and summer is a great time to practice reading skills.

“I think that students leave the school building at the end of the year and they may not have access to everything they would at a rich media center with books and materials,” Parker said. “... So many students make reading gains through free fun reading. We want to make that as easy as possible.”

This summer, students will be able to drop by any Hall County school or the Hall County School District’s Gardens on Green and borrow a book from a Little Free Library. Students at Flowery Branch constructed the small house-shaped libraries that each school has decorated. Students can take a book and leave a book at any of the little libraries at any time.

Another group of high school students is also working to make books more accessible to students. The students at Chestatee High have remodeled a school bus into a “Reading Rocket” bookmobile that media specialists will drive this summer to areas in the county that don’t have a library branch nearby.

The carpentry and graphic design classes at the school have redesigned the bus. Students are working to install shelves and designing decals that will be placed on the outside of the bus.

Sara Blankenship, media specialist at Tadmore Elementary School, said the bookmobile was an idea she’d spent a lot of time researching and found other districts experienced a lot of success with. She said she’s excited about how much students have worked to provide more opportunities for other students.

“I think so far it’s making an impact,” Blankenship said. “The kids are very excited and are glad to and want to get involved.”

The system is also making more than 900 books available online. Students will have access to an additional 300 audio books through the system’s website,

A suggested summer reading list for each grade level can also be found on the website.

Students will be given a user name and password for access to the online materials before school ends.

Jill Kelly, media specialist at Martin Technology Academy, said by launching a countywide digital bookshelf students will have access to more book titles than they would have if it had been up to each school to supply the online material.

Kelly said the pilot program cost the system $30,000.

Parker said ebooks and audio books are a perfect way to help students read over the summer because many spend time traveling.

“This way we could serve the students who aren’t going to be here,” Parker said. “Maybe they won’t even be in the state of Georgia. They could be anywhere. But if they’re a Hall County student, they’ve got access to books. So it’s just a great convenient way.”


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