Reading is important for kids — even in the summer

While summer time for kids often means the swimming, spending time with friends and having a whole lot of fun, it’s important for students to keep up with their reading.

Monroe County Schools have a number of programs in place to help with that.

Dr. Sue Woltanski, Monroe County School Board District 5 member, joined Good Morning Keys on KeysTalk 96.9/102.5FM this morning to talk about summer time in the district.

Woltanski is a retired pediatrician who is hopeful for the FDA approving a COVID vaccination for children under 5.

She said, “In my family, we didn’t want to get (COVID) so we all got vaccinated. It’s better to just not get sick if you can help it. I think that families who have been waiting for this for a long time, Florida’s been open for a while, but across the country, there’s lots of people who have still been isolating their kids for a long time and this is going to give them the relief that they can go back and feel that their kids are a little bit safer. I think in families where they have someone who is particularly high-risk, sending kids to day care when they were going to be coming back possibly exposing an elderly family member was a concern for a lot of people.”

The Florida Public Health Department decides the requirements for school attendance and Monroe County School District 5 will follow that guidance in terms of the fall school year.

The school board will meet next week and even though the school year is completed, summer reading programs are beginning.

Woltanski said, “We have summer school going on. We have multiple opportunities for kids and families to get involved with reading.”

The Myon Reading challenge is open to kids in kindergarten through eighth grade, which will record the time spent reading over summer break. There will be winners in every school and the top three will win Amazon Kindle fires.

Woltanski said, “That’s a great way to encourage kids. Also every county library has a summer reading program where you can record the time spent reading and there’s prizes and really fun events there. They have a lot of guests that come in and do some exciting things at every one of the county libraries.”

Additionally there are two programs in the county that provide free books to kids.

One is a statewide program called the New Worlds Reading Initiative. If your child qualifies, they will get a new book in their interest range every month of the year.

Woltanski said, “That’s a great program for kids who are struggling.”

For all children under 5 years of age, the United Way of Monroe County has a program that’s associated with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. Once a month from the day the child is born to when he or she turns 5, a free book will be sent to their homes.

Woltanski said, “It’s a great way to get into the habit of reading to kids and reading the same book over and over and over again because we know that kids being read to is the thing that is the biggest preparer for student success. It’s never too late to start reading to your kids.”

Monroe County Schools also have paid internships that prepare students for work place life.

Woltanski explained, “During the school year, kids can get both credit and get paid to do internships in a whole variety of fields, but this summer, the school district is offering for rising juniors and seniors and recent graduates, they can participate in the program, get paid $15 an hour to tutor younger students.”

Anyone interested should contact their high school to get involved in that program.

The agenda for next week’s school board meeting will come out tomorrow and most of the discussion will be preparing for the new year and the new budget.

July 1 is when any new laws go into effect and the school board will be updating procedures and protocols to be in compliance.

Monroe County schools are hiring at all levels and at the last school board meeting, a $2,000 sign on bonus for bus drivers was approved.

Woltanski said, “We are looking at every single level. Cafeteria workers, bus drivers, administrative staff and teachers.”

All information can be found at