Summer Sizzle Series Keeps Reading Hot
By Jacob Mathias
Dozens of children gathered in the shade of KASH Park on Thursday for the final session of the United Way of Portage County’s third annual Summer Sizzle Reading Series.
The reading series, held every other Thursday throughout the summer, is geared toward children through age 10. Each session, a local business sponsor’s a live reading of a children’s book followed by literacy-related activities.
“Our main goal it promote reading, promote literacy and to really encourage kids to read at any point and at any time,” said Laura Pfeil, community services manager for the group.
Each child goes home with a free book, courtesy of each session’s sponsor, in an effort to increase the size of their at-home libraries. According to Pfeil, studies have shown that having 20 or more books in a child’s home will have a significant increase in their reading proficiency.
“Having six reading events, that’s six more published materials that are in a household,” said Pfeil.
Thursday’s sponsor was Marten Machining, which designs, manufactures and tests precision tooling, fixtures and specialized machine parts in Stevens Point.
Marten Machining Vice President David Marten read I Love You Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. Pfeil said she chose Spires’ book for Marten as the story revolves around a girl attempting to engineer a “magnificent thing.”
“My mom always read to me every night,” said Marten. “The kids that like to read a lot, they like to learn a lot. I like promoting reading.”
Other sponsors this summer were the Mattison Family, H.O. Wolding, Associated Bank, Simplicity Credit Union and CoVantage Credit Union.
The reading series is an extension of Learn for Life, a United Way organized literacy program that provides one-on-one reading tutoring for second and third grade students throughout 14 schools in the county. Pfeil said 57 classrooms will receive Learn or Life tutoring during the 2017-18 school year.
“This is just one of the many opportunities that we have within Portage County. We live in an amazing area that offers a lot of things to do during the summer that are focused on education,” said Pfeil.
The United Way is also working with local employers to encourage them to offer volunteer time off for employees who would like to Tutor. Pfeil said Associated Bank, Skyward and Simplicity Credit Union have been particularly supportive of the effort.
Tutors are still needed and those interested can call 715-341-6740 or visit www.unitedwaypoco.org/learnforlife.