KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Erin Nguyen said as a little girl the Knox County Library was the kind of place she dreamed of going and today she manages all children's programming at that same library.
"It was a special treat to go downtown to the big library," she said. "I also loved the Ramona books by Beverly Clearly."
One of her biggest passions is summer reading, which data from Scholastic's most recent summer reading report shows is life changing for some students.
"It doesn't just have to be reading a book, you can sing songs and talk to them," she said.
The fact sheet cites regardless of ethnicity and socioeconomic level, children who read four or more books over the summer fare better on tests the upcoming year.
"As with any other skill, with reading it is important to practice," she said.
The Scholastic campaign also states each year teachers spend between four and six weeks reteaching material and by the time a kid gets to the 3rd grade, if they aren't on grade level they are four times less likely to graduate a proficient reader.
Nguyen said this is why books have to be a priority.
"The reading skills they are building now are going to affect them for the rest of their lives," she said.
But she said through parent participation and library resources, the path doesn't have to be one of difficulty.
"You have to read to be successful in school but that's going to translate in the rest of their lives," Nguyen said.
Knox County educators are trying to promote reading among younger children -- particularly with third-graders. Knox County Schools superintendent Bob Thomas said third-grade reading scores are too low in the county.
"Reading proficiency in third grade is not high enough. Teachers work hard, students work hard, but we have to do better," he said.
As schools let out for the summer on Thursday, Thomas and Mayor Glenn Jacobs paid a visit to Sam. E. Hill Primary School to hand out library cards to students. Those cards were also given to students at 17 elementary and middle schools in the area.