Education Department provides local children with summer reading fun

Books, crayons and other school supplies on a table

It’s clear that faculty in Marietta College’s Education Department are passionate about student learning; so when COVID-19 forced local school children to go without much-needed enrichment camp experiences this summer, they began working hard to find a way to get educational resources in their hands.

One of those camps, Marietta’s STREAM Camp, was set to take place in June but unfortunately had to be canceled. The camp, which began last summer, had been designed to provide hands-on opportunities to explore science, technology, reading, the arts and mathematics during a three-week, all-day experience for area children entering kindergarten through grade six. Marietta Education faculty knew that families were depending on the camp to help provide summer enrichment to children who had spent the final third of their school year at home because of the pandemic, and that providing an educational supplement was crucial.

Through their discussions, faculty members Raven Cromwell, Dottie Erb and Amanda Rider developed the Marietta College Reading Adventure Pack Project.

“The potential for significant learning loss due to school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the need to find ways to re-engage kids in learning over the summer,” said Dr. Dottie Erb, Marietta College Professor Emerita of Education. “It is our hope that the Reading Adventure Packs will inspire children to continue to read, explore and create during the summer months in order to be better prepared for their eventual return to the classroom.”

The Education faculty designed the Adventure Packs to include both fiction and nonfiction reading materials and supplies for hands-on activities that encouraged investigation, critical thinking, movement and creative expression. Topics such as homes and habitats, bees, bird-watching, and the environment were among the subjects that served as the focus for the Packs.

“It was really important to Amanda and me to get grade-appropriate books in the hands of local children,” Cromwell said. “We wanted to send them high-quality and high-interest books along with activities inspired by a central theme. Getting books in students’ hands is only one piece of the puzzle. We also need them to open the books and read them. We designed these reading adventure packs with children’s interests in mind. We hope the reading adventure packs will inspire students to read this summer.”

With generous support from the Marietta Community Foundation and the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, Reading Adventure Packs were assembled and delivered throughout Williamstown, Parkersburg and Washington County to 80 children who had previously registered to attend STREAM camp. And this extra support allowed an additional 80 Adventure Packs to be distributed to students enrolled in the summer food program at Harmar and Washington Elementary schools.

“Marietta College is grateful to the Marietta Community Foundation, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation and their donors for making this project a reality and for making this positive difference in the lives of area children,” Erb said.