Summer Time is Reading Time!

On the surface one might not think that Sacagawea and Neil Armstrong have much in common. They lived approximately a century and a half apart from one another, though each played a consequential role in reframing what is possible. Sacagawea, as a teenager, was discounted because she was Native American and a girl, successfully guided Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery from west of the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean, all while carrying her baby on her back. Neil Armstrong understood the value in learning from one’s mistakes early in life and chose never to forget this consequential lesson, from climbing a monstrous tree in his back yard to riding a rocket to the moon. Each share their story in Brad Meltzer’s I am… series, which the 1st and 2nd grade students at UrbanPromise Trenton’s 2019 summer camp are reading this summer.

68% of students attending Trenton Public Schools graduated high school in 2018, according to research composed by Advocates for Children of New Jersey, while the state average was 91%. Furthermore, students attending Trenton Public Schools, on average, scored significantly lower on the English Language Arts PARCC standardized test than the state average. As a result of these numbers, which suggests the need for organized, structured reading programs, all students attending UPT summer camp read. UPT high school students are reading F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, middle school students are reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, 5th and 6th graders are reading C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and 3th and 4th graders are reading Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Throughout the week, we pull spelling words from the text and prepare for our All Camp Spelling Bee, we play descriptive games by choosing various characters from the text – protagonists, antagonists, supporting characters – and list adjectives that describe them, explaining why. And, we identify with characters in an attempt to empathize and better understand their behavior in various analytical activities and games.

2019 is a summer of learning at UrbanPromise Trenton, and learning has never been this much fun!


If you have not read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, perhaps now is the time to read it! Although it is a book for “children”, it is a story for everyone.

The novel is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that is ruled by the evil White Witch. Four English children are relocated to a large, old country house following a wartime evacuation. The youngest, Lucy, visits Narnia three times via the magic of a wardrobe in a spare room. Lucy’s three siblings are with her on her third visit to Narnia. In Narnia, the siblings seem fit to fulfill an old prophecy and find themselves adventuring to save Narnia and their own lives where they meet the lion Aslan.

At the name of Aslan each one the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brace and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy go the feeling you have when you wake in the morning and realize that it is  the beginning of holidays or the the beginning of summer.

The book is filled with a beautiful mix of fantasy and action with characters who weave the prosaic with the profound.  It took C. S. Lewis almost 10 years to write the book, but it became an “instant classic” almost immediately. It has been 70 years since it was published and if you want a good summer read- this is it. If you read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe when you were younger, maybe this summer is a good time to re-visit this old friend. You won’t be disappointed!