FRESNO, California (KSEE) – One Fresno Unified summer program is proving popular this year: the district’s summer literacy program drew over 700 students.

A computer screen separates 6th-grade teacher Charla Pierson from her students, but the learning continues.

“You can still teach, you can still learn, they can still read, they can still read to you, you can still listen to them,” said Pierson.

It may be virtual, but it is the same dynamic program improving the reading skills of African American students attending Fresno Unified schools.

“All of the great benefits of the program are the same,” said Director Office of African American Academic Acceleration Wendy McCulley. “We still have our great teachers who are doing small group readings, read a longs and one to one programs for our kids.”

Parent participation is a huge component of the program and they must participate. Marcus Winston says this is the second year he has participated with his children – and he has seen a huge difference.

“Before, they never read for fun. It was just unheard of,” said Winston. “But now they have interest and they are into some of the books they’re reading.”

They not only developed a love of reading, but their grades improved too.

The summer literacy program at Fresno Unified is in its third year. It started with 200 students and this summer over 700 kids and their parents participated.