Yesterday as I left the school I am a teacher’s assistant the book geek inside was just bursting with joy! Now that is not usually the feeling I have on a Friday, but that day we had an assembly and it was AWESOME! This is my first year working at this school and at the assembly yesterday I learned about the school’s year-long reading program.
Every year, the school picks a theme and has a big surprise assembly to announce it where the teachers dress-up, sing, create decorations for the school, and the announce the reading programs theme. I have never seen so many kids jumping and dancing and screaming with excitement to read books. ever. The school is a 2nd – 4th grade and with only a couple classes per grade and their goal this year is to read 10,000 books as a school! They get prizes along the way and a big party when the accomplish their goal which involves the principle spending the night in a weird place at the school. ( One year the theme was “Read to the Roof” and the principle spent the night sleeping on the roof of the school after the kids had read 12,000 books). The kids are sorted into 4 teams that compete throughout the year, but the school must meet the 10,000 book goal. Books for school don’t count as reading, only free reading books and the longer the book, the more it counts.
Like I said, I was so excited when I left school. It was like an “ah ha” moment for me, because while summer reading programs provide incentives for kids to read during the summer, why can’t schools do the same during the year? We have been learning about free voluntary reading and how effective it is for kids development and learning, and this program seemed like just the incentive to help kids get into reading books they want to read on their own time. Sure they get prizes in the end, but its still their choice to read. They do not have to participate, but they do. And its been so successful that they keep it going every year and both the teachers and the students love it! The students love the competition to succeed in reading and the librarian at the school really helps make this happen. Its about the school coming together to promote reading, and the future librarians heart in me swelled when I learned that the school I work at doesn’t just care about test scores, they care about helping kids become readers who like to read 🙂