Mann Elementary School Librarian Morgan Johnson (left to right) and Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Grenita Lathan hand out books Monday to Levi Young and other Mann Elementary students. Johnson wore a "book fairy" costume for the giveaway. (Photo by Joe Hadsall)

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Students Monday at Mann Elementary School carried a rainbow of colors as they walked to the stage, but they all left holding the same shade of green. 

Each student received a few free books for summer reading. Provided by Scholastic, the books are part of packages educators hope will help stave away learning loss over the upcoming summer vacation. 

“From an educator’s perspective, I believe reading is one of the best strategies to promote achievement and prevent students from falling behind,” said Springfield Public Schools Superintendent Grenita Lathan. “Children who read regularly during the summer will be better prepared to enter the classroom in August.”

Sophia Estrada (right) and Dana Dozier, kindergartners at Mann Elementary, peek inside bags of books Monday. (Photo by Joe Hadsall)

Lathan helped deliver books to students over the last two weeks, visiting several schools across Springfield. The giveaways are part of Lathan's Summer Reading Challenge, according to a press release from SPS.

The bags were filled with different selections depending on the student’s grade:

  • Students in kindergarten through third grade received five books.
  • Fourth and fifth graders got three books and two STEM-based magazines.

The bags also contained Summer Express Workbooks, which feature chances for students to practice skills in math, writing, phonics, grammar and vocabulary. And some students were able to get a special book devoted to math practice.

Students at Mann Elementary on May 20 took turns to receive free books for the summer, provided by Scholastic. (Photo by Joe Hadsall)

The giveaway, held two days after more than 1,900 seniors received their diplomas during graduation ceremonies, is part of a number of traditions that happen in Springfield's public schools before summer begins. 

The last day of school is set for Thursday, May 23, at normal dismissal times — no makeup days for snow or adverse weather were required this year. 

Explore, a summer school program, is set for June 3-28. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade can attend in-person sessions; registration for those sessions closes on Friday, May 24. 

Virtual sessions are also available for grades 1-12. Those sessions are set for June 3-28 and July 8-Aug. 2. 

The first day of school for the 2024-25 school year is set for Aug. 19.

Joe Hadsall

Joe Hadsall is the education reporter for the Hauxeda. Hadsall has more than two decades of experience reporting in the Ozarks with the Joplin Globe, Christian County Headliner News and 417 Magazine. Contact him at (417) 837-3671 or More by Joe Hadsall