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Students encouraged to read over summer break

Siblings Jared and Ajoy Smith enjoy reading at the Porter Memorial Library on Ga. Highway 212 in Covington. Ajoy likes Jane Austen books and the "Sugar Plum Ballerinas" series.

Siblings Jared and Ajoy Smith enjoy reading at the Porter Memorial Library on Ga. Highway 212 in Covington. Ajoy likes Jane Austen books and the "Sugar Plum Ballerinas" series.

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Staff Photos: Michelle Floyd - Eight-year-old Jared Smith looks for "Magic Tree House" books at the Porter Memorial Library in Covington on Monday afternoon. He said he struggles in reading in school, but coming to the library and finding books he enjoys helps him.

COVINGTON --Ajoy Smith is only 11 years old, but she loves to read Jane Austen books -- and any other book she can get her hands on at the library or at school.

"I like that there's a lot of different varieties," said Smith, adding that she also likes to read the "Sugar Plum Ballerinas" books by Whoopi Goldberg.

She said she usually reads at night to help her fall asleep, but sometimes she gets so caught up in the book that she wants to keep reading to find out what happens on the next page.

Her mother Joyce requires her children to read at least two books over the summer and write essays so they won't get behind in school. On average, they read at least 30 minutes a day, she said.

"It increases their vocabulary," she said she's noticed. "I started reading to them when I was carrying them, and I started them in school when they were 2."

She said her 8-year-old son Jared hasn't been as enthusiastic with reading as Ajoy, but he is getting better, especially when he finds books that he's interested in reading.

"I like that it builds your imagination," said Jared, adding that he likes to read the "Magic Tree House" book series by Mary Pope Osborne. "Reading for me is the hardest subject, but now since I'm going to be in third grade and my mom takes me to the library more, it has gotten easier."

While the Smith family might be ahead on their summer reading, there's a few more weeks left for those who still need to complete their books.

If kids ages 0 to 17 register for the summer reading program at any of the three Newton County Library branches and read eight books or have eight books read to them, they write the titles down on a reading log and show it at the library to get a prize. If kids read 20 or more books, they can enter their name to win a free Kindle.

The Newton County Library has locations on Floyd Street at the main Covington Branch, on Ga. Highway 212 at the Porter Memorial Library and on Ga. Highway 142 at the Newborn Service Outlet. Hours and more information is available at www.newtonlibrary.org.

The Newton County School System doesn't require that elementary students read during the summer, but officials have created a list of suggested summer reading by grade levels. The list is available on the NCSS website, www.newtoncountyschools.org.

Appropriate titles include "Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister for students entering kindergarten, "Diary of a Fly" by Doreen Cronin for rising third-graders and "Tuck Everlasting" by Natalie Babbitt for rising fifth-graders.

Students who will be in sixth through eighth grades next school year must read one book from a list on the NCSS website and respond to an attached assignment, which will be taken for a grade in their English language arts classes within the first two weeks of school.

Reading options include "Bad Boy" by Walter Dean Myers for rising sixth-graders, "Face on the Milk Carton" by Caroline B. Cooney for seventh-graders and "The Outsiders" by S.E. Hinton for eighth-graders.

High school students must read one book from a list on the NCSS website. They, too, must complete an attached assignment that will be taken for a grade. Quest students must read two books and complete two assignments.

Titles include "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger for rising ninth-graders, "The Life of Pi" by Yen Marten for 10th-graders, "The Scarlet Letter" by Nathaniel Hawthorne for 11th-graders and "The Joy Luck Club" by Amy Tan for seniors.

The state Department of Education reports that students who do not read on a regular basis during school breaks fall behind in reading achievement.

"Research has shown that reading just six books during the summer may keep a struggling reader from losing ground," said Martha Reichrath, deputy state superintendent of schools. "When choosing the six, the parent and student need to be sure that the selected books are just right -- not too hard and not too easy."

This summer, the Atlanta Braves and the National Education Association are partnering with Georgia Public Library Service for the 2013 Atlanta Braves Summer Reading Program, Home Run Readers. It rewards students in kindergarten through 12th grade by providing Braves tickets for reading books and completing an online activity.

Students must read one book on sports or sportsmanship, register for the program at https://secure.mlb.com/atl/community/reading_program.jsp and complete a grade-appropriate online activity.

Students who print their certificate can take it to their local library to receive a code to redeem a ticket for a game on July 29, Aug. 1 or Aug. 11. Discounted tickets for accompanying family members and friends will be available for $7 each.

The contest runs through Aug. 11.

Additionally, children who were born in 1997 or after and participate in a summer reading program at their local library can enter for a chance to win a $5,529 college savings account contribution through a partnership between the Georgia Public Library Service and the state's Path2College 529 Plan. Families have until Aug. 15 to enter the sweepstakes; more information is available at www.Path2College529.com.