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For Immediate Release: May 8, 2013
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Statewide reading challenge aims to curb summer learning loss

The South Dakota Department of Education is kicking off the Read South Dakota! Summer Reading Challenge, as schools are nearing the summer break.

“Students who don’t practice reading during the summer months lose valuable skills and may start off the next school year below the level they were previously at,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Melody Schopp. “It’s a phenomenon that we call ‘summer slide,’ and it is especially noticeable with our youngest readers.”

According to Schopp, the Read South Dakota! Challenge is unique because it promotes the reading of engaging material at a skill level appropriate for each child, rather than focus on reading a certain number of books.

By entering information about a child’s reading level and interests into an online tool called “Find a Book,” parents and librarians can help children create customized reading lists with challenging titles.

Research shows that students who are reading at grade-level by the end of third grade are more likely to achieve future academic and career success, Schopp explained. The state Department of Education is focusing on helping young students reach that critical milestone, she said.

To learn more about the Read South Dakota! Summer Reading Challenge and to access the “Find a Book” feature, visit and click on the Read SD! link at the top of the page.

For more information about the department’s goals on college and career readiness for all students, visit