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Reading is Magic

A group of students and I started "Hooked on Books" three years ago. We are all volunteers and work to help get kids hooked on reading through awesome contests, free bookshelves all over town and free after school tutoring. We also have a free, two week summer reading camp, Reading is Magic. We hire 4 master teachers and 8 teens to work with at risk, low income students who are 1-2 years behind in reading. Students are given pre and post standardized assessments in order to assess reading levels and growth. During the past two summers, each camper made an average of one year’s growth in reading by the end of the two week intensive. The theme "Reading is Magic" is supported by a focus on the Middle Ages which is integrated into all camp activities. The learning centers and reading materials provide opportunities for kids to engage in a variety of learning modalities so that every child is reached. Since quite a few of our campers are English Language Learners, we also staff our camp with native Spanish speaking teens and teachers and include vocabulary building and multi-cultural pride and awareness as a vital part of the camp program. A major component of the camp is character building. The Middle Ages theme gives the students the opportunity to work towards the goal of becoming a Prince, Princess or a Knight through effort and perseverance. They work their way through the “Royal Road,” the path of becoming a Page, then a Squire and a Scribe, until finally they earn the title of Knight, Prince or Princess. The campers earn these titles by doing their work and acting with integrity, honesty, effort and grit- the character values of a knight. We focus on creating a new growth mindset for these students that helps them internalize that great effort will lead to great progress. This camp is super fun and engaging and kids not only learn how to read, but their confidence soars and they come to believe in their own potential.

Awesome Foundation Santa Fe awarded the chapter's inaugural grant on May 23, 2014 to Reading is Magic to provide free, additional tutoring for those students attending camp that need more support. Tutoring will be offered during the camp session, throughout the rest of the summer, and into the fall as needed. Rayna Dineen, volunteer coordinator of Reading is Magic and the student-led Hooked on Books, said, "Our camp is so grateful to the Awesome Foundation for this wonderful grant which will allow us to offer many additional hours of one-on-one tutoring for children who struggle with reading. The grant will ensure that our most at-risk readers gain confidence and experience the magic of reading. Children who attend this camp make one year's progress in reading on average, and we deeply appreciate the support for our program."

Funded by Santa Fe, NM (May 2014)

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