SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – School is out for elementary students in Springfield, but the learning is far from over for some kids. OzarksFirst stopped by Harrison Elementary School, where some students were able to bring something home with them before the last day of school on May 25.

Springfield Public Schools (SPS) wants kids to focus on their reading skills this summer. It’s why they gave away free scholastic books to 3,600 students in kindergarten and first grade across the district.

OzarksFirst spoke with a young girl named Luciana after her kindergarten class received some.

“What I like about reading is that so I can get smart,” Luciana said.

Her classmate Ella Boyd says reading is one of her favorite hobbies.

“My mom and dad said I’m doing a great job at reading, but I just need a little bit of some work,” Boyd said.

What better way to become a better reader than getting six scholastic books? 21,600 books were given out before the end of the school year.

Kindergarten teacher Rebecca Griffeth handed out bookbags in her class. Griffeth tells OzarksFirst that kids can benefit from reading during the break to prevent what she calls ‘summer learning loss.’

“Over the summer with two and a half months where they don’t get [reading instruction], then there are few things that they can lose,” Griffeth said. “There are a few skills that if they’re not practiced they might lose it over the summer. Having books to take home will really help them and support what we’ve done all school year.”

This campaign is all part of SPS superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan’s summer reading challenge. Dr. Lathan wrote a letter to parents in each packet of free books. 

Students are also invited to register for SPS’s summer learning program Explore. It starts June 6, but those who are interested can still sign up.

“Explore is another great place to keep learning happening and get books in your child’s hands,” Griffeth said.