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Authors Kristi Yamaguchi And Conrad Storad Kick Off Summer Reading Celebration

May 20, 2014

2014 Summer Reading Program Promotes “20 Minutes A Day” to Prevent Summer Slide

(Phoenix, Ariz. – May 22, 2014)  On hand to celebrate the kick off of the 2014 Summer Reading Program at the Children’s Museum of Phoenix were state leaders, Secretary of State Ken Bennett and Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal as well as distinguished authors, Olympic champion Kristi Yamaguchi and local Arizona author Conrad Storad.

Both on and off the ice, Kristi Yamaguchi has been an inspiration to millions of fans around the world for her athletic achievements and continually giving back to the community. As an athlete, artist, author, wife, mother and philanthropist, Kristi embodies the word champion. Her motto is “Always Dream,” and Kristi’s accomplishments prove that dreams can come true with hard work and dedication. This inspirational message is at the crux of her two children’s books; “Dream Big, Little Pig” and “It’s a Big World Little Pig.”

According to Conrad Storad, “a good nonfiction story should be more than just a bunch of facts.” He says that nonfiction stories should be fun and that’s exactly what he tries to do with each and every book that he writes for young readers. Storad is an award-winning author, editor, and science writer. He is the author of more than 40 science and nature books for children and young adults.

Because of the urgency around Arizona’s third grade retention policy known as Move On When Reading, teachers across the state are focusing their efforts on improving students’ reading skills throughout the year.  However, once the school year ends and summer begins, students face the challenge of ensuring they retain the gains achieved in reading during the previous school year.  Children who do not read consistently over the summer can lose momentum in improving their reading skills and may not retain their reading progress made during the school year; this is known as “summer slide.”

This summer is expected to be one of the hottest on record. Schools, public libraries and a collaboration of state and local agencies have partnered for the second year to encourage reading all summer long for Arizona residents, especially for young children. This collaboration is making it possible for each child to have the opportunity and resources to escape this summer’s heat and read.

This summer, the collaboration encourages students to read 20 minutes a day, but readers have the flexibility to complete this goal as best fits their needs. Studies show that the amount of time spent reading makes significant contribution to vocabulary, general knowledge, spelling, and verbal fluency. Reading benefits everyone’s vocabulary and comprehension skills, not just the more able readers.

The Arizona Summer Reading Program is a statewide collaboration of agencies across the state, under the banner of Read On Arizona, which focuses on early literacy by encouraging students and families to read throughout the summer. Agencies include, the Arizona Department of Education, Arizona State Library, First Things First, Governor’s Office of Education Innovation. This collaboration builds upon the Arizona State Library’s successful annual summer reading program offered by public libraries across the state.

“Summer reading programs at public libraries are designed to get children to exercise their imaginations and make reading a daily event,” said Secretary Bennett.

“We all have a vested interest in igniting a passion for reading,” said Superintendent Huppenthal. “Our message to parents: it’s never too soon to make reading a habit. Find 20 minutes throughout the day to read to your children and have them read to you.”

“Three years ago, I decided to make early childhood education the main focus on my philanthropic endeavors.  Our mission now reads, my Always Dream Foundation inspires underserved children to reach for their dreams through innovative reading programs and by advancing the cause of early childhood literacy. Parent engagement is a key component of our focus, so events like today’s Summer Reading Kickoff Celebration, both informs families on important resources available and encourages parents to read to their children year-round” said Author and Olympic champion, Kristi Yamaguchi.

“Reading proficiency is vital to school success, so we’re excited to be working together with so many state and local partners to inspire kids and families to read throughout the summer by visiting their library or taking advantage of a free online library by visiting ReadOnArizona.org,” said Arizona Literacy Director, Terri Clark.

About Read On Arizona

Read On Arizona is a statewide, public/private partnership of agencies, philanthropic organizations and community stakeholders committed to creating an effective continuum of services to improve language and literacy outcomes for Arizona’s children from birth through age eight.  For more information visit www.ReadOnArizona.org.

About Arizona Department of Education

Arizona Department of Education serves Arizona’s education community, ensuring every child has access to an excellent education. For more information visit www.azed.gov.

About Arizona State Library

The Arizona State Library, Archives and Public Records, a division of the Secretary of State, provides Arizonans with access to the information they need today, and preserves the history of Arizona for tomorrow, through partnerships with cultural and public information institutions.  For more information, visit www.azlibrary.gov.

About First Things First

First Things First is one of the critical partners in creating a family-centered, comprehensive, collaborative and high-quality early childhood system that supports the development, health and early education of all Arizona’s children birth through age five. For more information visit www.azftf.gov.

About Governor’s Office of Education Innovation

The Governor’s Office of Education Innovation was established to ensure the successful implementation of Arizona Ready, the state’s education reform plan, which is dedicated to creating a future where all Arizona students are prepared to succeed in college and careers.  For more information, visit www.arizonaready.com.