While Boston may be one of the most innovative cities for educating our next generation, summer learning loss has emerged as a key barrier in a quality education—both in Boston and nationally. Loss in learning varies across grade level, subject matter, and family income; in general, low-income students lose around three months of grade-level equivalency during the summer months.
According to Boston Public Schools Superintendent Carol Johnson, “Students whose families live in poverty lose a lot of academic growth over the summer and come back to school, sometimes, behind where they left off in June.”
Moreover, Boston Public Library’s Director of Branch Libraries Christine Schonhart states, “Statistics show that, for kids who don’t continue reading over the summer, by the time you’re in the 6th grade, you may have lost more than two years of reading achievement.”
Started in 1996, Read Your Way to Fenway is a part of the Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. Through Read Your Way to Fenway, Bank of America partners with the Boston Public Library and The Red Sox Foundation to battle the issue of summer reading loss. The annual contest invites children ages 5–17 to submit an application outlining the books he or she read over the summer and including a creative essay about their favorite.
“As part of our commitment to strengthening education in the Boston community, Bank of America focuses on creative ways to promote learning,” said Bank of America Massachusetts Market President Robert Gallery. “Read Your Way to Fenway empowers Boston’s children and young adults to continue to read and learn over the summer.”
At the end of the summer, the program culminates at Fenway Park during a Red Sox home game where winners are greeted by Wally the Green Monster, awarded with Red Sox apparel, honored in a pregame ceremony on the field and given the opportunity to cheer for the Red Sox during the rest of the game.
Combining summer reading with America’s favorite pastime, particularly Boston’s championship-winning Red Sox, helps to broaden the program’s appeal and motivate Boston’s young people to continue to read and write about their favorite books during the summer months.
The goal is that the exercise will, in turn, foster the participants’ love of reading.
“If you can make reading fun, it really connects with the kids, and what I’ve seen this summer is [my son is] beginning to read more on this own, by his own choice,” said Tracey Lavin, whose son participated in this year’s contest.
“Bank of America has been a great partner with Boston Public Library for the past 15 years, and I think they have been very supportive of Read Your Way to Fenway because they share a lot of the same values as the library,” Schonhart said. “They invest in the community, they are offering opportunity to children around the city and this could absolutely not happen without Bank of America—they really make it possible for about 750 kids.”
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