The Donna Independent School District has launched a new summer reading initiative that the district hopes will boost reading achievement for all students and help improve their overall educational experience.

DISD’s Department of Academics has made available a program called myON to all students in grades PreK-12. MyON is an online, interactive, digital library with more than 6,000 books in English and Spanish that students can read on any web-enabled device such as computers, laptops and tablets at anytime, anywhere. The program also provides an offline app, where up to 20 books can be downloaded at a time and students can read even when they don’t have internet access.

Belinda Cruz, DISD Academic Officer for English Language Arts and Social Studies, said district librarians, teachers and students were excited to hear that myON was being made available. “We had a representative from myON train our librarians who then trained our reading teachers so they could become familiarized with the program. We also asked the reading teachers to sit down with every student and have them come up with a personal reading goal for the summer. The students set a goal on the number of books and the amount of minutes they wanted to read, and then talked about how they planned to reach their goal.”

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In addition to setting their personal reading goals, the students also took a survey to determine which books are just right for them. “The students took a reading interest inventory and myON recommended books that are based on their interests,” Cruz said. “For example, a boy who expresses an interest in cars, mechanics and things of that nature, will be provided a list of book recommendations based on his input.”

Cruz said over the summer, many students experience the summer slide, which is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. Children who do not read during the break can lose more than two months of reading achievement. But, this can be avoided through the use of myON.

“Research shows that if a student reads at least 20 minutes a day, which is 140 minutes a week, it will have an impact on the student’s success in the next grade level,” Cruz said. “If we can get students to be readers, they will be successful in every subject area whether it’s math, science or social studies. They’ll be able to tackle any subject. This goes right along with our district’s emphasis on early literacy and student outcome goals.”

To help encourage reading this summer, myON created a national and local reading context to motive students to read and will award prizes to the top readers in the elementary, middle school and high school level. The theme of this year’s contest is Reading is a BLAST this summer with myON.

MyON will be available for students throughout the end of August, however additional funding is being sought to continue the program for the upcoming 2018-19 school year.