Three-time summer reading champion shares secrets to success

Library program sees increased participation in fifth annual contest


Jefferson County Public Library’s Summer Reading program is nothing new.

But every year, there’s something different to look forward to, said marketing manager Cindy Matthews - whether it’s more participants, livelier competition or the endless opportunities for residents to log reading minutes.

“We include audio books, Facebook, Twitter, fan fiction,” she said. “We’re raising awareness of how much you read.”

In keeping with its tradition started in 2015, the program included a reading competition between schools. The contest measures the percentage of a school’s students who meet the reading-minute goal for their age group.

This year’s winning schools were Adams Elementary Preschool with a 93% finisher rate; Glennon Heights Elementary with a 76% rate; Bell Middle School with a 17% rate; Arvada High School with a 13% rate; and Addenbrooke Classical Academy with a 38% rate. Bell and Addenbrooke were both repeat champions, having won the competition three times each.

Ask Bell’s digital teacher librarian Julie Schlosser and principal Michele DeAndrea, and they’ll say the frequent victories stem from a variety of tactics and technologies.

Schlosser joined the school’s staff in 2018 and was determined to keep up the school’s strong summer reading streak, she said. As the summer drew closer, she created a Google Classroom page for the contest and promoted the competition during the school’s morning announcements.

Additionally, the school brought in teen services librarian Brittany Dolezal from the Golden Library to speak on the program, and providing Chromebooks to help students register.

All this has been to help students combat the so-called summer slide — where children lose reading proficiency when they do not read over summer. Bell staff has always been avid about helping their students avoid that setback, DeAndrea said.

But, she added, it’s not just about promoting what’s good for kids. It’s also about promoting what’s fun.

“There’s a world in books that kids can escape to,” she said. “Summer can get very long, but reading can shorten those summers.”

Additionally, Bell’s partnership with the library ensures students have a wide variety of options at a time when “we don’t have a great number of books per student in our (school) library,” Schlosser said. “I knew I would need to work with Jefferson County Public Library. It’s an indispensable partnership.”

The partnership especially serves the school’s low-income students, some of whom may not have books at home, she said.

“Getting those kids to read and connecting them with their library is beneficial,” she said. “We are so grateful to have the grand prize come back to us, and to have the partnership we’ve had.”


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