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YMCA Book Club Boosts Summer Literacy

The summer months aren’t just for playing outside and doing fun crafts. At the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, Massachusetts, campers made progress in their reading skills alongside these traditional summer activities.

For the third summer, the YMCA’s Quincy Summer Day Camp hosted a free summer literacy program aimed at mitigating summer learning losses. The program, referred to as “Book Club” by the campers, uses Wilson® materials to advance and maintain the literacy skills of third- and fourth-grade students who have been identified as at risk of experiencing summer learning losses. This summer, Book Club met three times a week with Nicole DeBassio, a certified Wilson® Dyslexia Practitioner and founder of The Purple Cow Reads tutoring program, for six weeks or more, so progress could be measured over the summer.

“Students join the YMCA Book Club for many reasons. Some are very excited because they love reading. Others are more apprehensive, maybe because their parents signed them up or because reading isn’t their strength,” said Nicole, who is currently pursuing her WRS Level II Certification. “I try to make the Book Club fun for all of the campers regardless of why they signed up.”

No matter how students find their way into the Book Club, they all benefit from this summer reading and enrichment opportunity, which includes structured group reading lessons and journaling. As part of the program, each student is evaluated using the Wilson Assessment of Decoding and Encoding (WADE) to identify the group’s needs and focus areas.

Along with reading instruction, Nicole ensures students are still having summer fun through activities such as reading to their favorite stuffed animal and dressing up as vowels to sing a vowel song.

“While the students may not realize it, I can see and strongly believe that the students who joined Book Club leave better prepared to return to school at the end of the summer,” said Nicole. “Their reading has improved, and they’ve seen that reading can be fun!”

According to the South Shore YMCA’s Mission and Values, the YMCA’s vision “is to be a place where everyone has the opportunity to grow, learn, and thrive.” Students from all backgrounds benefit from the Book Club, said Laureen Browning, Vice President of Youth Development at the South Shore YMCA. Additionally, children who may not live in a print-rich environment are finding their new love of reading, she said.

The retention of learned information can falter over the summer months. Thanks to programs like the South Shore YMCA’s Book Club, in combination with the Wilson instruction, students are sure to maintain and develop their reading skills while still enjoying the fun summertime has to offer. 

Pictured: Nicole DeBassio and her daughter, Ali, representing the vowels “a” and “o.”