Grant Kickstarts School’s New Community Reading Program

Grant Kickstarts School’s New Community Reading Program
Teacher Leah James is pictured about to hide a book through the new school program. Submitted Photo

POCOMOKE – A new reading program is designed to give Pocomoke area students more access to diverse books.

Pocomoke Hide and Go Read, a new summer reading program being offered by Pocomoke Middle School, is giving local kids a chance to find books hidden throughout the community.

“What we’re trying to do is get diverse and relevant literature out to our students each month,” teacher Leah James said.

The school received a $1,500 grant from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore to offer Pocomoke Hide and Go Read. The program, which was launched last week, gives students a chance each month to find one of 10 reading bags hidden throughout the community. Those who follow the school on its social media outlets will see pictures of book locations each month as the bags are hidden by teachers. James said students were thrilled to take part in the first round of the program last week.

“One of the kids was literally jumping up and down,” she said.

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Each bag contains not only a sampling of diverse reading material, but also related surprises, such as journals and sunglasses. Each bag also contains a bookmark with a QR code. When students scan the code with their phone, they’re taken to a video of the book’s author speaking about their work.

James said the program was focused on providing relevant, diverse books so students would find connections with them.

“Oftentimes our population of diverse students don’t see themselves in the text,” James said, adding that made it hard for students to identify with the material.

Students who find reading bags are invited to share photos on social media with the tag #PocoHideAndGoRead. James said students should check the school’s social media pages each month for book locations.

Principal Matthew Record said the school was grateful for the financial support from the Community Foundation that made the program possible.

“Hide and Go Read is an innovative way to promote literacy during a pandemic with high interest books that represent our students’ reading interests,” he said. “We are so thankful to the Community Foundation for their funding and support in this project.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.