The anticipated enthusiasm that some 2,000 children will unleash at Turn the Page KC’s summer reading extravaganza in the Sprint Center downtown is proving to be more than one show can handle.
Especially when it comes to managing the fleets of buses, including several with LINC students, queuing up to regather the children and their bags of new books at the end of the two-hour show.
So the fifth-annual show with Kansas City Mayor Sly James — “Summer Reading Splash” — will be a double-header June 19 in the morning and again in the afternoon.
“This is a great way to keep up their interest in books, their love for reading and to stop the (summer) slide,” said Carl Wade, LINC Caring Communities Program Specialist.
About 450 children from five LINC summer programs will be traveling to the Sprint Center — Millenium at Santa Fe, Boone, Topping, Elm Grove and Lee A. Tolbert.
And hundreds more children in LINC programs at Kansas City Public School sites will be going with their schools, Wade said.
Both the morning show and the afternoon show will begin with some warm up dancing and rapping with the educational fitness performers at Healthy Hip Hop.
Then bow-tied Mayor James will read aloud to all the children in the arena.
After that, the school groups will scatter among the many interactive stations on the Sprint floor, and take turns going to “The Reading Well” where every child will be able to choose books that they get to take home as their own.
“You can see the smiles on their faces,” Wade said, recalling previous summer Sprint shows when LINC children picked up their books. “They’re grabbing their books and writing their names in them.”
“It reinforces what we’ve been saying all along,” Wade said.
He means the emphasis LINC’s summer programs place on spurring children’s growth in reading.
LINC classrooms follow lesson plans in the Kids’ Lit curriculum, and they spice each day with spontaneous moments for reading — like “D.E.A.R.” (drop everything and read), and “Fantastic 15,” (15 minutes of reading whatever a child wants).
The Sprint Center event serves as one of the summer’s highlights. The children enjoy the thrill of the arena, and “a lot of partners (in the show’s interactive stations) make sure it is a fun event,” Wade said.
Turn the Page KC and Mayor Sly James’ office gather these and more advocates for reading as part of their mission to get all Kansas City children reading at grade level by the third grade.
Keeping children engaged through the summer is a critical part of that mission.
Turn the Page KC cites research that shows that children who don’t keep reading in the summer can fall one or two months behind, while summer readers move further ahead. And six-out-of-10 children growing up in poverty don’t have any age-appropriate books to read at home.
“Reading over the summer,” says Turn the Page KC in its promotion of Summer Reading Splash, “is incredibly important for our kids.”