SC State 1890 Promotes Summer Reading with Virtual Book Club

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Orangeburg, S.C. – Many summer reading programs and libraries have had to cancel in-person book club gatherings due to social distancing regulations as a result of COVID-19. With the challenges of limited to no face-to-face contact, the SC State University 1890 Research & Extension program found an alternative solution for promoting youth literacy and cultivating basic social skills by creating the program’s first virtual summer reading book club.

1890 June 24The SC State 1890 Extension Virtual Summer Reading Book Club was created to encourage summer reading and improve the developing literacy skills of participants during the pandemic. The month-long virtual program was held weekly on Tuesdays, from July 7 - August 4, via Zoom meeting platform.

“We wanted students to be able to improve reading skills, gain self-esteem and encourage a lifelong habit of reading,” said Sydney Reid, 4-H Youth Development extension agent. “Programs like this allow youth to reinforce the skills learned at school,” said Reid, who developed the summer program.

Prior to the start of the reading book club, five complimentary storybooks were mailed to students. Participants read aloud alongside Reid or with guest readers. Each reading session was followed by a question and answer segment to encourage participation, build comprehension skills and instill greater confidence in public speaking.

The featured guest readers included: Herman Jamison, SC State 1890 SMART Academy teacher and educator at Brookdale Elementary School in Orangeburg, S.C., Zharne Glover, criminal investigator for Fort Mill, S.C. Police Department and Deon Tedder, democratic nominee for SC House District 109 and an attorney for David Aylor Law Office, based in Charleston, S.C. The program concluded with a special appearance from Miss South Carolina USA 2020, Hannah Jane Curry.

“Being able to interact with all the boys and girls through Zoom, and learning more about what SC State University is doing for its community was something I’m grateful to have experienced,” said Curry, who read the storybook Granddaddy’s Gift. “Having programs like [the summer book club] allow students to still learn and grow through education, while still providing youth the ability to interact with others even if it’s through a camera.”

The virtual summer book club consisted of 39 students, including former participants in the SC State 1890 SMART Academy camp. The program was comprised of rising fourth and fifth grade students who reside in Calhoun, Dorchester and Orangeburg counties and Columbia. At the conclusion of the program, each student received three additional complimentary storybooks, customized bookmarks and a certificate of completion.

“I enjoyed reading books with Ms. Reid and my friends,” said Caleb Holmes, who is in his third year of participating in Smart Academy. “It was a great experience, and I am thankful to have been part of the book club,” said Holmes.

The summer book club is part of the newly developed initiative, S.T.R.E.A.M. (science, technology, reading, engineering, agriculture, art and mathematics). Using these areas of study, SC State 1890 seeks to develop the problem-solving and critical thinking skills of youth participants to prepare them to become the next generation of exceptional leaders.

“The summer book club reinforces the importance of developing the reading, comprehension and social skills for students,” said Dr. Louis Whitesides, vice president and executive director for 1890 programs. “If students are successful in one aspect of learning, such as reading and problem-solving, we believe those skills will transfer to other areas of learning. We look forward to continuing to provide innovative programs and services that are life-changing for the citizens of South Carolina.”

Watch more on Reid and the virtual summer reading program.

For more information on the SC State University 1890 Extension Summer Virtual Book Club, contact Sydney Reid at (803) 533-3772 or For more information on all 1890 Research & Extension programs and services, visit