Despite recent academic gains, only slightly more than one in four Chicago students score proficient on state reading tests.
Chicago has struggled with how to address the issue. Building on a successful summer reading program he started at the city’s libraries, outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday announced a $200,000 summer reading program at 50 Chicago Public Schools.
The program, funded by the Lefkofsky Family Foundation and other private donors, comes on the heels of a district announcement in December that it will revamp its reading curriculum.
Targeting students in grades 3 to 5 in 50 schools, the program will provide about 8,500 free books before the school year ends. Over the summer, public library branches will partner with the schools to engage participating students and families in activities.
Emanuel modeled the program after his Rahm’s Readers Summer Learning Challenge with the Chicago Public Library, which launched in 2012. Children who participated in the program on average showed 15 percent greater reading gains than their peers, according to a Chapin Hall analysis.
Schools chief Jackson joined Emanuel and other city officials at the William H. Brown School of Technology on the Near West Side in announcing the program.
“We won’t see the academic progress we’re striving for unless we instill a love of reading in all of our students,” Jackson said.