A number of Hilliard City Schools leaders encouraged students to participate in summer reading programs this year, offering small prizes students will receive when they go back to school.

A number of Hilliard City Schools leaders encouraged students to participate in summer reading programs this year, offering small prizes students will receive when they go back to school.

At Hilliard Station Sixth Grade School, Principal Kevin Buchman said the "Hilliard Station Summer Reading Adventure" is a new enrichment activity for students who attend the school in the fall.

"Motivating a child to read is very important and it is one of the biggest challenges educators face for non-readers," he said. "Once a child finds that 'right book,' the door opens to a world of knowledge and adventure."

Buchman said he and classroom teachers created a list of noteworthy books based on a variety of topics and genres.

"Our goal is to motivate our future students to pick up a book, or two or three, this summer," he said. "Our reading program is strictly voluntary and all students who participate will receive a reward."

On the Summer Reading Adventure page on the school website, hst.hilliardschools.org, students are encouraged to keep a log of books they read all summer and have parents initial beside each book title they complete.

Students get two points for every book they read or any book an adult reads to them and five points for books chosen from the Hilliard Station list of recommended books.

When students return to school on Aug. 21, they can turn their reading logs into the main office at the school.

Students with the highest scores will be entered into a drawing to win $25 gift cards to Barnes & Noble, Buchman said.

Each student who participates will receive a special Hilliard Station Reading Adventure prize.

Buchman said he is a parent.

"My wife and I continually try to find fun and creative ways to continue reading and math skills throughout the summer," he said. "Adults and children should never stop reading. Learning should not end just because school is out.

"A child's reading and math skills need to continuously grow."

He said Olympic athletes who want to excel do not stop training in their events.

"When a child stops reading over the summer, research has shown that many children's reading skills get lower," he said. "Why would anyone want to take a step back when they could continue to move forward?"

Buchman said it is a parent's responsibility to help students keep skills strong by providing fun learning opportunities.

He said the Summer Reading Adventure provides a fun reading opportunity for students.

"Hilliard is a progressive school district that continues to be on the cutting edge of education and best practice," he said. "It is our district's belief that all students should be challenged and try their best.

"Are summer reading programs required? No, but it is strongly supported," he said. "Our district is continuously trying to find new ways to promote learning and our program is one of many you'll find in our school system."

Some of the suggested books are A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle; Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix; Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson; Gossamer by Lois Lowry; Holes by Louis Sachar; Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.

At Washington Elementary School, the Reading at Home program, or RAH, involves students downloading a recording sheet from the website, wsh.hilliardschools.org, and filling in circles as they read the books.

In level one, if 12 circles are filled, the student gets an extra recess and a popsicle when they get back to school.

For level two, students have to read 16 books and complete five book responses to answer questions about the book. That prize includes "a kickball game and a (snow cone)," according to information on the website.

Students have to fill in 22 circles for 22 books and complete 10 book responses to get all of the level one and level two prizes, plus a picnic lunch and a special award, to be determined by teachers.