Gov. Susana Martinez is challenging New Mexico students entering the second, third and fourth grades to read over the summer by offering them prizes and chances to win grand prizes like a hot air balloon ride with her, the chance to be a Junior Zookeeper for a day at the ABQBioPark and even an all-expenses-paid family trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Fla.
Martinez is scheduled to make the announcement at a news conference today. During an interview with the Optic on Tuesday, she said the program is aimed at stopping the “summer slide,” a well-documented phenomenon where students often lose part of their reading proficiency during the summer months and end up needing to catch up when they return to the classroom in August.
But Martinez said the summer reading challenges also serve another purpose:
“I want kids excited about reading.”
Besides the grand prizes, participants will win prizes like certificates from the governor, a New Mexico True bookmark, Lobo or Aggie sports posters, New Mexico True Lobo or Aggie basketball, the chance to meet Lobo and Aggies basketball coaches and the chance to throw the honorary ceremonial first pitch at an Isotopes game.
Also, one of the challenges includes community reading competitions, with the winners receiving a free community-wide reading celebration, hosted by the governor and sponsored by Comcast.
The reading challenges are part of a larger effort the governor has championed of ensuring that students are reading at a third-grade level before they move on to the fourth grade. If they aren’t reading at grade level by the time they leave third grade, she said, many become frustrated and give up.
Learning to read well at an early age is critical to academic success and, ultimately, to success in the workplace and in life,” Martinez said. “I am incredibly excited by the tremendous community involvement and partnerships that we have developed in creating and launching these reading challenges, and I’m hopeful New Mexico students will read throughout the summer and take advantage of the neat prizes and adventures we have in store for them.”
Three of the reading challenges are new, while the fourth is an existing summer reading program the state is joining as a partner.
Students who read six books will get small prizes under each programs. Those who read an additional six books, and in some cases, submit a short write-up, will receive additional awards and be eligible to win a grand prize.
Details about each of the reading challenges are available at www.ReadingChallenge.ped.state.nm.us
Also available on that website are downloadable versions of reading logs for each contest.