Ride for Reading encourages literacy and safety | RecordCourier.com

Ride for Reading encourages literacy and safety

Heading to Gardnerville Elementary School cyclists leave Lampe Park with backpacks filled with books.
Jim Grant | The Record-Courier

About 20 volunteers consisting of teachers, parents, high school and college students from the community hopped on their bikes and carried books in backpacks from Lampe Park to Gardnerville Elementary School Tuesday.

They were participating in the “Ride for Reading” program hosted by Western Nevada Safe Routes to School Program, based in Carson City.

Cortney Bloomer, Western Nevada Safe Routes to School coordinator, said the program is a national organization that promotes summer reading while incorporating bicycle safety.

“It’s a great time to encourage both literacy and safety, since schools are out,” said Bloomer. “We encourage students to keep reading over the summer and practice safe tips for when they are outside.”

The Western Nevada Safe Routes to Schools Program aims to provide kids across Carson City, Lyon, Douglas, and Storey counties with the skills and encouragement they need to incorporate safe walking and biking into their lives, especially traveling to and from school.

The idea for “Ride to Reading” was founded by Mathew Portell in 2008 while serving as a fourth-grade teacher in the Nashville, Tenn., school system. When instructing his students to read 15 minutes every night, he learned that one of his students did not have access to books at home. He then discovered that the ratio of books per child in low-income neighborhoods is one age-appropriate book for every 300 children. Combing his passion for bike riding and reading more than 200 schools across the nation now have access to books, according to rideforreading.org

“It’s another way for our students to have access to books over the summer and outside of school,” said GES Literacy teacher, Lauren O’Neill.

O’Neill and Shaunda Vasey, school counselor, steer headed the project at GES. They also were volunteer riders along with fourth-grade teacher Lee Miles.

Once the riders arrived at the school, 460 students received a short talk about the importance of reading and bike safety. They pledged to read and share their books and to be safe on their bikes.

More than 500 books were sorted by grade levels and each student —kindergarten through fifth grade — was able to choose one.

Jake Hoover, 9, from Lee Miles’ fourth-grade class said once summer starts, he plans to read his book in four days and plans to give it to his little brother when he is old enough to read, in the meantime he might read it to him.

Annie Hill, 10, also from Miles’ class chose “The Baby-Sitters Club: Dawn of the Coast” by Ann M. Martin. She said she enjoys the series and has only read a handful of them.

“Some of them are challenging, but I enjoy the challenge and the chance to try something new,” she said.

Both students said they were happy to have something new to read over the summer and promised to practice the safety tips they were given when outside.