[NYPT Summer 2018]

By Stephanie Avidon, Literacy Specialist

First it was changing our name from Parents As Reading Partners to now Pick A Reading Partner in order to keep up with the changing times. We have continued to listen to you.

Over the years, people have asked about increasing the recommended number of minutes a student reads per day during a PARP program from 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Well, we are excited to report that the NYS PTA Board of Directors voted at their July meeting to make this change.

As you know, your child is usually reading more than that anyway. Holding a PARP program at your school is meant to coincide with the classroom assignments and not require students to read more. We want to encourage your child to read together with a partner of his/her choice – whether that’s a parent, an older sibling, a grandparent, babysitter, whomever. Our main objective is for children and adults to read together! The number of minutes to read each day is encouraged – it is not a requirement. You can determine what fits best into your school community.

Here’s why it’s important to read every day with your children:

  • Reading helps the brain to develop and improves academic performance. A simple correlation being that so much of our children’s education relies on their ability to read – strong reading skills are needed!
  • Reading together increases quality time we spend with our children in a day that is often rushed with activities.
  • Reading provides more than merely a distraction, but actively engages children’s imaginations.
  • A student that reads 20 minutes per day will be exposed to 1,800,000 words a year. With this knowledge, many students will score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests.
  • Reading 20 minutes a day, starting in kindergarten, means that by the time your child reaches 6th grade, s/he will have read for the equivalent of 60 school days. This is equal to the “Summer Slide” at an age many children stop reading on their own.
  • A 2009 Sussex University study determined that reading reduces stress – taking only 6 minutes for the individual to relax, slow down the heart rate and ease tension.

So, now that you see the importance of promoting reading, are you ready to start planning a PARP program in your school this year? Starting now while things are a little calmer is a good idea. Check out the updated PARP Toolkit on the NYS PTA website. This resource offers first-time chairs help to get started as well as returning chairs new ideas they can add to change up their program from previous years.

A PARP program can be whatever you want – there are no set requirements for timing, theme, activities. You create a program that works for your PTA and school. In the PARP Toolkit you can read about the past NYS PTA PARP winners to show you what your PARP program can become if you want. We recommend you start small and do what you can with your PTA and school resources. The important thing is you hold a PARP program so you encourage reading together!

If you have any questions, reach out to your Region PARP Chair or email literacy@nyspta.org.

We hope you will help us promote reading through creating a PARP program at your school! Happy Reading!