With several weeks of summer still in full swing, more children are hitting the pool instead of hitting the books. The Prosper Independent School District and the Prosper Community Library have summer reading programs in place to keep children reading during the summer.

“We want continuity for their learning,” PISD Associate Superintendent Holly Ferguson said. “So for those couple months when they're away from us, we want them to sustain what they've worked on during the school year so they don't backslide and regress.”

The school district premiered a revamped summer reading program this summer. The new program allows students to choose what books they read during the summer instead of confining the students to a school-mandated reading assignment.

“We wanted to be innovative and continue to instill a love of reading for our kids and not just 'reading because I have to,'” Ferguson said. “We tend to lose kids at about sixth grade because that's when we start telling them what to read instead of letting them choose. We almost stifle kids sometimes, so we decided we need to think about things differently.”

The new summer reading program is sectioned by the grade the student will be entering in the fall and is subsectioned by the student's reading level: on-level, pre-advanced placement, advanced placement or gifted and talented. Broken up into those categories, the program offers various recommended lists from which students can choose reading material, including The New York Times nonfiction bestsellers list and the Maverick Graphic Novels List.

“A lot of our students won't pick up a book during the summer, so with us putting expectations for summer reading, it helps guide the parents to enforce reading during the summer,” Ferguson said. “It gives our parents some tools and resources … without them having to figure out those tools on their own.”

At the Prosper Community Library, Library Director Leslie Scott encourages children to read anything they can get their hands on, even the backs of cereal boxes.

“Just reading, no matter what you're reading, is important for the summer just to continue the love of reading,” Scott said. “I emphasize reading what they want to read because when we make it a task or assignment, it loses some of its joy. I tell the kids all reading is rewarding reading.”

Every year, the library has a themed summer program. This summer's theme is “Summer of Science.” The library has hosted programs on magnets, bubbles, rocks and minerals and the science behind fires and firefighting.

“What we were trying to show the children is that science is more around us and we're more immersed in science than what some people realize,” Scott said.

The library hosts daily activities. For more information on the Prosper Community Library summer program, visit https://www.facebook.com/prospercommunitylibrary/. For more information on the PISD Summer Reading Program, visit http://www.prosper-isd.net/summer_reading.