Teaching kids to enjoy reading

By Garry Martin - Principal - Demmitt Elementary School

It was a cold brisk morning in February 2012. I remember it as if it was just yesterday. The morning announcements were over, and I was settling into my office to start the day along with my daily cup of coffee. I was expecting a visitor around 10:00 a.m. that day who wanted to discuss a new reading program with me. I knew nothing of the woman nor had I ever heard of her program.

The clock struck 10, and my administrative assistant, Mrs. Barron, let me know that my appointment had arrived. She was a distinguished looking lady with a smile that lit up my office. She introduced herself as Mrs. Barbara Lurie. She began the conversation with some background information on herself, letting me know that she was a retired teacher who had a passion for reading and a love for children. As the conversation continued, a connection or a relationship as I like to call it, was suddenly forming. Like an aunt with her favorite nephew.

She began describing a new revolutionary summer reading program that was supposed to help my Demmitt students minimize what we call in education as the “Summer Reading Slide.” The “Summer Reading Slide” refers to the three months in the summer when students are not engaged in school, and learning is lost. I was curious. The program was called Kids Read Now. Mrs. Barb promised that every third grader in my building could receive seven free books over the summer, to keep them reading free of charge! I thought to myself, how can I turn down the opportunity to get free books in my student’s hands. The relationship was formed.

The Kids Read Now program helps students, teachers, and schools maintain and improve kids’ reading abilities over the summer. After the first trial year in the program, kids returned to school that fall and expressed their enjoyment and pleasure of getting reading books on their level throughout the summer. It was great to see the students’ love of reading grow so much over one summer.

With the success of the first year in the program, we decided to expand the program to include all Kindergarten through Third grade students throughout the District. The responses from teachers, parents and mainly students have been tremendous! What better way to get students excited about reading than to provide them with free books throughout the summer!

When I first arrived at Demmitt Elementary six years ago, after spending my first twenty years of education in Junior high and High school, I recall a veteran teacher telling me, “Mr. Martin our job at the Elementary is to teach kids how to read and enjoy doing it.” From the period of 2012 to 2015, the Kids Read Now program has provided our students in grades Kindergarten through Third tens of thousands of free books that they can call their own. With the national recognition of the importance of the summer reading slide and the positive part that Kids Read Now program have played in closing the summer reading gap, the district now must pay a fee to participate in the program.

Even with the cost of the program, our reading scores have increased, and our summer reading gap for our students is closing. Along with an excellent teaching staff, Kids Read Now has become a valuable summer reading intervention that benefits kids! Reading is like riding a bike, the more you read, the better you get at it. We value our long-standing relationship created with Kids Read Now and the enjoyment that it has helped bring our elementary students when it comes to reading.


By Garry Martin


Demmitt Elementary School

Reach Garry Martin at (937) 415-6533 or by email at garry.martin@vbcsd.com.

Reach Garry Martin at (937) 415-6533 or by email at garry.martin@vbcsd.com.