Lake Wylie and Clover neighbors hope the community grows wild about reading.
Individuals – including Clover School District teachers, staff, board members and parents – have teamed up with businesses to offer the community greater access to books through Reading in the Wild initiative.
“I am so excited about our experiment,” said board member Sherri Ciurlik of Lake Wylie.
Ciurlik said the idea was inspired during an April visit with Donalyn Miller, author “Reading in the Wild,” with teachers and staff at Oakridge Middle School. The book examines the best ways to nurture reading habits.
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Rather than students having to go to a York County or school library or catch a book mobile stop, with Reading in the Wild “books are where the kids are,” Ciurlik said.
The organizers asked students where they’ll be this summer to launch the program. From their response the list is growing, but so far locations have been secured at Sweet Repeat Charitable Thrift Store, The Bagel Boat, The Fuzzy Peach, The Pizza Man, all Upper Palmetto YMCA day camps and Clover Area Assistance Center.
“If kids are given the opportunity to read and access to books to choose, they will become readers,” Ciurlik said. “Businesses thought it was great idea.”
Each location will provide a location and a shelf or box of donated books. There’s no check out, tracking or purchasing of books. Simply take a book, return it to the same or any location, or keep it.
“Once it’s set up, in theory, it will just take care of itself,” Ciurlik said. “The idea is setting books free. Reading is not confined to school or library, where ever you are, pick up a book and enjoy the freedom of it.”
Ciurlik, an admitted bibliophilia, said the more community involvement, “the better off we are.”
“Nothing gives me more pleasure than sharing a book,” she said. “This is a year-round program. I think it’s way cool.”
Pam Cato, director of curriculum instruction at Clover School District, supports the idea.
“Any time we can get books in children’s hands, it’s great,” she said. “We know it’s going to help minimize reading loss in summer. We want them to have fun reading for pleasure to learn this is another way of entertainment and we encourage it all summer.”
Ciurlik stressed reading isn’t just for school incentives.
“The point of reading is for enjoyment of the book,” she said.
And Reading in the Wild isn’t for students only.
“We want parents to model reading. If your parents read, you’re more likely to read,” Ciurlik said. “The hope is as parents and kids read a book, they’ll share it.”
Donated reading material can be more than books. Ciurlik said comic books, magazines, whatever gets a person to read is encouraged.
“It’s always great to recycle books,” said Cindy Menz, attendance power school clerk at Kinard Elementary School. She has donated two large shopping bags or about 100 books her sons, now ages 9 and 12, have read or aged out of to “make room for more to come in.”
Ciurlik said the first book drop has already been made at Blue Eagle Academy for the Boys & Girls Club, and the rest will begin being distributed this week.
Sweet Repeat thrift store, which is open 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday and Saturday in Lake Wylie, also has joined the program offering children a free book. While the store sells books, manager Kathy Denton said “we’re happy for kids to pick out a book to take home.
“It encourages kids to read, supports the community and teaches children to love to read. Reading promotes education, which promotes the well-being of children who go on to be adults, and do bigger and better things,” she said.
Catherine Muccigrosso • 803-831-8166