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Dickens Reads students get tablets for reading at home

Literacy tutors say their students have made good progress and hope the tablets will help them avoid the "coronavirus slide"

CLEVELAND — Jocelyn Foster, the principal of Charles Dickens School in Cleveland, went knocking on some of her students’ doors on Wednesday to deliver a special gift – an Amazon Fire tablet loaded up with free books and reading games.

The tablets were donated by a volunteer from Dickens Reads, a collaborative effort to lift reading scores at the Cleveland school.

WKYC is helping spearhead the literacy project, which was launched in January after receiving funding from a consortium of local foundations. Other partners include Cleveland Metropolitan School District News Bureau, Rhonda Crowder & Associates and DJ Edward Phatty Banks.

A team of a dozen volunteers had been showing up at Dickens School regularly to tutor second- and third-graders in reading. Since the launch of Dickens Reads, they've put on a variety of fun activities, from a videochat with a book illustrator to a musical performance where students rapped lyrics about their book of the month.

RELATED: Students get to meet book illustrator via an online chat

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Volunteers felt they were making good headway with the students. And when the school year abruptly came to an end, they didn’t want to give up.

So the tablets were purchased, and a curriculum drawn up that will keep the students in touch with their volunteer reading mentors.

Each family receiving a tablet on Wednesday signed a contract, promising their child will use the device every day to read books and work on comprehension.

Program volunteers hope that giving the tablets to students will help them avoid the "coronavirus slide" -- similar to the summer slide, which happens when students lose some of the academic gains earned the previous year.