Gwen Hoke would sooner see a pig fly than spend her summer reading.
Wait, let’s rephrase that: Gwen Hoke is reading this summer so she can see a pig fly.
She really is. In exchange for reading books she chooses, the soon-to-be middle-schooler snagged a kite emblazoned with a cartoon swine. She said she plans to catch a breeze with it in her front yard.
“I like to read,” Gwen said. “And this month I’m not very busy, so it’s a great way to spend those free days.”
Gwen is one of about 200 area youngsters expected to take part this summer in Arrow Readers on the Move. It’s a district-sponsored mobile reading program that travels around, helping school-age students in grades K-5 — whether they attend Lowell or not — keep their reading skills sharp in exchange for prizes such as T-shirts, ice cream coupons and, of course, kites.
Kim Lum, a Cherry Creek second-grade teacher who coordinates the program, said Arrow Readers has been around for about a decade. In 2015 and 2016 it was funded by the Lowell Rotary. This year, general funds are footing the bill to have staff at each location to help students practice reading and take comprehension quizzes.
“The students who read during the summer come back in the fall at least where they left off,” Lum said.
Just about all West Michigan public school districts promote summer reading. Neighboring Forest Hills Public Schools emails weekly tips to district families, keeps some elementary libraries open during summer and will host summer reading events such as an author visit at Pine Ridge Elementary.