Summer learning continues with Reading Under the Lights

Summer learning continues with Reading Under the Lights

Image Credit: Submitted

A child’s learning should be continuous throughout the year and not stop just because school happens to. In hopes of Wayne County children carrying on with their studies throughout summer break, the United Way of Wayne and Holmes, in partnership with Wayne County Public Library and seven schools in the area, will offer the Reading Under the Lights event, where students will get to shop for books to read over the summer.

“We started this project with Wooster City Schools six years ago,” said Katie Koglman, CEO at United Way of Wayne and Holmes. “It blossomed from there. Rittman City Schools was the next to host an event, and now we are working with six other districts as well: Northwestern, Norwayne, Southeast and Triway. At United Way our main role is to facilitate the meetings and help fundraise for the events. We serve on the planning committees and, as true to our mission, mobilize community resources to make the events successful.”

With the United Way and the Wayne County Public Library serving as cheerleaders, the schools each design their own events, Koglman said, to be fun-filled in order to prevent the summer slide — a term used to describe the declining reading skills of children over break, she said.

“Literacy experts agree that when children read at least five books over the summer, their reading should stay on track,” Koglman said. “At these events each child has the opportunity to go shopping for books of their choosing in order to encourage them to read. The books are all organized by grade level, but the child may choose books of their reading level, regardless of grade.”

In addition to what each student takes home, the schools involved pick out a “One Community. One Book” for each family to take with them and read aloud at the events to model family reading togetherness, Koglman said.

Events will be held in May for the following local districts: Triway, May 2 from 6-8 p.m., Triway High School football stadium; Rittman, May 6 during the school day; Norwayne, May 17 from 6-8 p.m., Norwayne High School football field; Wooster, May 19 and 20 during the school day; Northwestern, May 24 from 6-8 p.m. at the Northwestern High School football field; and Southeast will hold its event at the beginning of the fall 2022-23 school year.

“The in-school events at Rittman and Wooster ensure every child participates,” Koglman said. “We encourage families from the other schools to bring their children to the evening event. We also take the opportunity to feed the children as well. Reading is vital for future success. This event excites children. Each event has reading stations that the kids move around to, and they feature local celebrities, like police officers, firefighters, librarians and even some furry friends. At these circles the children will be read to and have the opportunity to ask questions about the book read.”

In addition to the activities being planned for those who choose to attend, Koglman said the Wayne County Public Library always invites at least one life-sized book character guest for students to meet and greet with, and there’s always the chance other special characters will make an appearance as well. The library also creates a story walk for children to participate in. Families are able to sign up for a library card and even learn how to borrow a 3-D printer from the Romich Foundation.

Because of its continued belief that reading is vital to the success of every student, Koglman is hopeful many families will make the effort to visit their district’s Reading Under the Lights event.

“At United Way of Wayne and Holmes, we believe the ability to read is vital to a person’s future success,” Koglman said. “We partner with the schools and the library because they believe this as well. We invest resources in this program, as well as Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, to ensure every child in our community has access to books. We think Reading Under the Lights encourages children to read over the summer because they picked the books — this is critical. We aren’t telling them what books to read. We are letting them decide which books to read. They now have interest and ownership.”

More information about Reading Under the Lights events can be found at United Way of Wayne and Holmes’ website at and by following the organization on Facebook @uwwhc and Instagram @uwwhc.