Delaware students devour 139,486 digital titles

Sunscreen, beach towels, and a boatload of books. In the summer of 2016, K–5 students from the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Wilmington, Delaware, used their mobile devices to access thousands of books with myON®, by Renaissance®. The following summer they read even more. In 2017, the district expanded its successful pilot into a full-year program. After just 12 months, students had logged more than 60,000 hours of reading and finished a truly grand total of 139,486 books.

Dr. Judith Conway, Red Clay’s supervisor of Unified Arts, says that myON, originally implemented to help combat the summer slide, now plays a vital role in the district. “Our strategy across the district’s 17 elementary schools is to ensure that every student can read independently by the end of the third grade. myON helps us achieve that by encouraging year-round reading and by enabling fast, cost-effective access to a digital library with sufficient critical mass and accessibility to serve our entire student population.”

Jennifer Minchini, a librarian at the district’s North Star Elementary School, adds, “One of our goals is to provide students with a robust balance of physical and digital books. Each format has value in the development of learning skills, and we want to entice students from one to the other. myON, with its interactivity and read-aloud features, attracts students to the digital library and simultaneously fosters an overall enthusiasm for reading.”

"myON, with its interactivity and read-aloud features, attracts students to the digital library and simultaneously fosters an overall enthusiasm for reading.”

Jennifer Minchini
Librarian – North Star Elementary School

The challenge: Maintain reading skills from June to August

Red Clay is a comprehensive K–12 public school district that serves more than 16,000 students, making it the largest district in Delaware. On SAT tests, Red Clay leads the state in total average score among comprehensive school districts and boasts a top-three reading proficiency of 61 percent.1 All Red Clay schools feature libraries administered by librarians who are certified or in the certification process with the Delaware Department of Education.

Conway says that the intent of the district’s summer reading program was to give students a portable library that would make reading fun—and help them sustain reading skills through the summer. “Our teachers, focused on literacy and understanding students learn in different ways, use an array of tools to promote reading. We had been working with superintendent Dr. Mervin Daugherty to evaluate eBooks for the district and recognized that myON would be an ideal platform. myON combines easy access from almost any device (computers, smart phones, and tablets), an expressive reading voice (versus computer-generated audio), unlimited access to thousands of digital books with personalized browsing, and the ability to track reading data.”

"We had been working with superintendent Dr. Mervin Daugherty to evaluate eBooks for the district and recognized that myON would be an ideal platform.”

Dr. Judith Conway
Supervisor of Unified Arts – Red Clay Consolidated School District

The results: More books, more out-of-school reading, and more skills

Building momentum

In the spring preceding the myON pilot, Minchini and her fellow librarians participated in a 1.5-day train-the-trainer session. Those librarians then introduced myON back at their home schools, helping students master logins and reading basics.

Encouraged by students’ positive responses to myON over the summer, teachers continued using it throughout the school year. By the following July, students had finished more than 100,000 books. Minchini says that as the Curriculum and Instruction Department evaluated long-term funding, teachers weighed in. “Our teachers had a clear preference for myON, citing its user-friendly interface and high-quality selections of nonfiction. We now use myON in our classrooms, in regular and special education programs, for homework assignments, for story time in the library, and as a research resource—it’s part of everyone’s daily routine.”

Minchini says that while training the district’s nearly 9,000 elementary students was a daunting task at the outset, each year has required fewer resources. “We now just teach kindergartners, and because our older students are already experienced users, they help bring the younger students up to speed. Each year, as we’ve celebrated success and leveraged more of myON, we’ve seen corresponding increases in reading time and books completed.”

Fostering year-round interest

Today, all district elementary schools use myON. Schools can also extend their core libraries with collections from partner publishers. Most, for example, subscribe to the Candlewick Press Grades 3–7 collection that includes popular fiction appropriate for upper-elementary students. Others add the Walt Disney Company collection or others.

Conway says reading results have exceeded even her own high expectations. “Our most recent myON data shows that 14 of our 17 schools achieved a book-completion average of 10 books per student. One of our city schools, Shortlidge Academy, which is the district’s second-smallest school with just 415 K–2 students, tallied 15,198 books for an amazing average of 36 books per child.”

Minchini adds, “Last year, Brandywine Springs School students read more than 13,000 books, with 22 percent of their reading time logged during out-of-school hours. Many of our students don’t have access to books or someone to read to them at home, so it’s heartwarming to see them taking advantage of myON. Speaking as a parent myself, I also appreciate not having to purchase hard copies. On more than one occasion, I’ve bought multiple copies of a single title to keep at school, at home, or in the car.”

"Many of our students don’t have access to books or someone to read to them at home, so it’s heartwarming to see them taking advantage of myON.”

Jennifer Minchini
Librarian – North Star Elementary School

Developing skills for lifelong learners

“myON gives students thousands of books at their fingertips,” concludes Conway. “Years back, we tried to build our own eBook library, but the catalog lacked sufficient variety and the process was slow—students were waitlisted for many of the books they wanted. In contrast, myON gives all of our students easy, anytime access to more than 13,000 digital books. myON is also a better investment, allowing us to provide a balanced offering of print and virtual books. The program is helping students develop the skills needed to become lifelong book lovers and learners.”

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1 https://www.redclayschools.com/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=3141&dataid=13056&FileName=Red%20Clay%20Maintains%20Performance.pdf

Sunscreen, beach towels, and a boatload of books. In the summer of 2016, K–5 students from the Red Clay Consolidated School District in Wilmington, Delaware, used their mobile devices to access thousands of books with myON®, by Renaissance®. The following summer they read even more. In 2017, the district expanded its successful pilot into a full-year program. After just 12 months, students had logged more than 60,000 hours of reading and finished a truly grand total of 139,486 books.

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