June 14, 2022

A reading program designed to help kids stay sharp over the summer is relaunching with in person book fairs at over 20 Virginia CHP apartment communities this year.

Community Housing Partners (CHP), a nonprofit organization that provides affordable and sustainable housing throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, first launched the CHP Reads! Summer Reading Program in 2019 to help young residents at its apartment communities offset the loss of academic learning over the summer months.

CHP Reads! employee reads to an excited audience

The CHP Reads! books fairs at Meadowview Apartments in Pulaski, Virgnia, and Linden Green Apartments in Christiansburg, Virgnia, were the first two events of 2022, held in the apartments’ community centers. For the previous two years, due to the pandemic, the program was modified with contactless book drop-offs, at-home literacy activities, and a reading challenge.

“We are so very excited to see kids back in our community centers and thrilled by their enthusiasm about books,” said Tiffany Slusher, Resident Services Director of Programs. “CHP Reads! is like Christmas in the summer for our communities,” Slusher added. 

“CHP Reads! is my favorite program that we offer, said Morgan Hilton, SWVA Resident Services Coordinator. “So far, we have over 120 youth signed up.” The CHP Reads! program offers children free books, snacks, art activities, and the chance to read and listen to stories. Over 4,000 books will be passed out this summer. “We still have many properties waiting for youth to get out of school and sign up for the program,” Hilton added. CHP Reads! employee helps a participant pick out their books

The theme for this year is based on Scribble Stones, a children’s book about a little stone that wants to spread goodwill in the world. “We loved the kindness theme that ran through the book and the social-emotional learning concepts that are sprinkled in,” said Stacy Taylor, Resident Services Program Developer.  All books given to the children are theirs forever. Most youth will receive between four and 12 books throughout the summer. Many also have access to little free libraries where they can obtain more books. “We are installing at least two new little free libraries on CHP properties this summer. We hope to continue the tradition of adding more each summer,” Taylor remarked.

The CHP Reads! program also includes weekly ‘door drops.’ Personalized bags are filled with snacks, books, book wish lists, and CHP Reads! water bottles, and delivered right to the participants’ doors. Larger properties, such as Meadowview and Linden Green, receive six book drops. “Little things like new books to call your own help to create CHP’s very own homemade subscription service to add excitement to an otherwise potentially tech-filled summer,” said Tiffany Slusher, Resident Services Director of Programs. 

National research has shown that the average student loses a month of academic learning every summer. Children who participate in summer reading programs, keep their mind and reading skills active, as well as score higher on reading achievement tests at the beginning of the next school year. CHP Reads! is also a great opportunity for CHP staff to engage with the kids, “while secretly practicing some reading and hopefully gaining a lifelong hobby,” Slusher added.

The Linden Green Book Fair, held on Monday, featured story time outside. “We could not have asked for a more beautiful day to hang out and read with the little kiddos. Reading to children brings out the kid in me. I had a blast,” said Marcheta Turner, Recruiting Manager at CHP. She was one of several CHP employees who volunteered their time to make the book fair a success. 

The return of the CHP Reads! Summer Reading Program coincides with National NeighborWorks Week (June 4-11), a week-long celebration where NeighborWorks organizations spotlight their collective impact and show how they strengthen communities. CHP has been a chartered member of NeighborWorks America since 2003.