by DeJanay Booth, Carlsbad Current-Argus
May 30, 2017

Now that the 2016-2017 school year is over, Carlsbad students will have the opportunity to take on a state-wide summer reading challenge.

The 2017 New Mexico True Summer Reading Challenge encourages students between the ages 5-12 to read various books and document them in a reading log to be sent to the New Mexico Public Education Department.

“Governor (Susana) Martinez announced the New Mexico True Summer Reading Challenge to help students maintain and improve reading skills over the summer when they’re not in school,” said Mike Lonergan, spokesman for the governor’s office.

According to the New Mexico Public Education Department, students must be entering an elementary school in the 2017-2018 academic year or be ages 5-12 by Sept. 1 to participate in the challenge. Students must complete a reading log provided on the state Public Education Department website and submit it by July 31.

Students who read six books will receive a certificate from the governor and a bookmark. Those who read 12 books and submit an essay on “Why I love New Mexico” will be able to enter a grand prize drawing.

Grand prizes include a trip to Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, a balloon ride with the governor, or be an Albuquerque BioPark junior zookeeper for a day.

Other prizes include a basketball package featuring tickets, meeting the head coach and receiving a signed ball from New Mexico State University or University of New Mexico men’s basketball teams, tickets for four to the state fair and one of the fair’s concert/rodeo events, and win New Mexico Culture passes that will allow admission to 16 state museums and monuments.

“Not only does the reading challenge prepare students to hit the ground running in the new school year – it’s also a fun way for them to learn more about our state,” Martinez said in a news release.

According to New Mexico Voices for Children, 77 percent of fourth-grade students in New Mexico did not read at a proficient level in 2015 — a higher percentage than the national average of 65.

It is important for students to be proficient in reading by the third grade, according to the New Mexico Public Education Department, as students who cannot read at the grade level are four times more likely to drop out.

The City of Carlsbad is doing its part to help local children master reading skills.

The K-3 Plus program is being offered by the Carlsbad Municipal School district, and the  Carlsbad Public Library is offering a summer reading program.

“If you’re in (kindergarten through third grade), you’re learning to read. After that, you’re reading to learn,” said Beth Nieman, youth services librarian at Carlsbad Public Library. “It’s great bonding time for families. Any kind of reading parents do with young kids is excellent.”

Nieman said reading exposes children to a greater range of vocabulary, helps them write and perform well in school.

For those children participating in the state-wide challenge, the Carlsbad Library is also prepared to help.

“I hope the kids participate and get books for that at the library. We’re happy to help any kids find books,” she said.

She said about 1,000 kids, including teens, participated in the local reading program last summer.

Those interested in participating in the summer reading program, may register at the Carlsbad Public Library on June 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., located at 101 S. Halagueno St.

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