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Reading Rewards at Cleaves Memorial

The Reading Rewards Program addresses a need for literacy improvement within the community. The summer reading program included 10 youth between the ages of 5 and 12, in partnership with their parents, guardian, or responsible adult. Youth were able to choose books based on their reading level and topics of interest. As the youth reached the preset goals of the program, they were awarded prizes and a chance to attend an Ice Cream/Pizza Party. The goals and vision of the program came to fruition this summer, as youth gained self-confidence and developed a love for reading!

The mission of Cleaves Memorial CME Church Reading Rewards Program is to encourage children to develop a love for reading and become lifelong readers. Our vision is to inspire children to read more, sharpen their reading skills, and encourage them to learn about topics they are interested in by providing incentives for reading as well as reading materials and opportunities to read together. The model of the Reading Rewards Program is based on the literacy needs and interests of children in the community of Cleaves Memorial CME Church.

Meeting the Need

The rules of the Reading Rewards Program are:

  1. The children are to read no less than 30 minute intervals. Credit will be given for each 30 minutes recorded.
  2. They must include the title of the book, date, and page numbers read.
  3. Must have an adult sign off on the 30 minutes.
  4. All books must be Age appropriate.
  5. All Reading Charts must be turned in by the date specified for the program.
  6. All participants who have recorded over 120 reading minutes will be eligible to attend the Ice Cream/Pizza Party.
  7. Everyone who turns in at least 90 reading minutes a week will be able to choose a prize from the prize box.
  8. Every 120 reading minutes will be an entry for the Grand Prize Drawing at the Ice Cream/Pizza Party.

Participants of the summer reading program were from low socioeconomic families and between 5 and 12 years of age. The reading group consisted of ten youth, both male and female, who attend Cleaves Memorial CME Church and residents from the community. Cleaves Memorial is located in the city of Columbia, SC, in an African American residential community. All participates were selected on a voluntary basis with parental consent.

At the initial meeting, each participant was asked to bring a parent, guardian, or other responsible adult. The rules and regulations for the reading program were explained to the adults and participants. Each participant was then given a copy of the reading chart and instructions on how to use it. Books were also supplied at this meeting. The reading chart was designed to track each book read by each child. Once a week, the group would meet with the Director and a volunteer adult to discuss the reading and review the comprehension questions for understanding. The books varied by reading levels and assorted topics. Participants were then given an opportunity to begin reading, using the books supplied. Incentives were provided for reading and behavioral improvements.

Transformative Outcomes

In the beginning of the program the participants were very enthusiastic. Some of the children who did not enjoy reading developed a liking for reading. They seemed to gain self-confidence and better self-control during the sessions. As the program progressed, our strong readers began assisting weak readers and assisted in leading the discussion.

The program was a success because our goals were met. Our primary goal was to assist in the improvement of reading skills and to impact self-control among our youth and children. The program also satisfied the vision which was to inspire the children to read more, to sharpen their reading skills, and to encourage them to learn about topics they were interested in.

It is my recommendation that this program be tried by others with the following changes:

  1. Require the participants as well as the responsible adults to sign a participation consent form that insures they understand and agree to abide by the rules and regulations, and will be dedicated to the program.
  2. Provide more reading materials.
  3. Provide more opportunities for the participants to read together in different settings.
  4. Provide volunteers who are willing to facilitate, either by listening to the participants read and/or by providing materials and incentives.

Submitted by,

Vickie Scott
Director of Board of Christian Education
Cleaves Memorial CME Church