Indiana Daily Student

Elementary school program sets reading challenges

Students at Summit Elementary School are challenging each other to read as many minutes as they can and achieve a school-wide goal of reading for 170,000 minutes during a period of two weeks.

As part of the Reach for the Stars Reading program, all teachers decide how many minutes they think their students can read during Feb. 3-17. First grade teacher
Andrea Livingston said her students are each trying to read for 300 minutes.

During the two-week challenge, students also try to collect monetary pledges from friends and family.

At the end of the challenge, half of the money the students raise goes back to them to buy more books and half of it goes to the classroom teacher to order more books for the classroom library.

Livingston said the students don’t have to read only for the sake of their reading goal, but if their parents read to them or the younger students play with magnetic letters, those minutes count toward their total.

She said every day at Summit the students have a 90-minute literacy block where the students focus only on reading and writing.

Usborne Books and More organizes the program, and the students buy their new books from the company.

Susan Anderson, education representative with Usborne, said the company highly encourages a culture of reading.

“They are very supportive of anything pro-literacy,” she said.

She said Usborne began the Reach for the Stars program about 20 years ago to help children develop a reading habit and then reward them with more books to sustain that habit.

Students count minutes they read at home and at school toward their goal. At the end of the challenge, the school library also receives a 10-percent match of the total money raised in free books from Usborne.

Livingston said the school has been participating in the program for a few years. She said the school sets its school-wide reading goal based on the number of students enrolled.

Incentives are also offered from Usborne to the students, such as medals for students who are the top readers in each grade level.

Summit is also providing incentives for its students, such as pizza parties for the
classrooms with the most time spent reading.

Anderson said many children throughout the country aren’t reading at grade level.

She said children becoming good readers and enjoying reading provides them with a strong base for the rest of their lives.

“It’s very rewarding to me to partner with the schools,” she said.

Anderson said other schools in the Monroe County Community School Corporation participate in the program, as well as students at Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation, among others.

The program has helped Livingston provide many more books for students in her class.

She said one year she had more than $300 to spend on books for her classroom
library.

“I picked everything I wanted and still had more,” she said. “It was ridiculous — a good ridiculous.”

Livingston said the program has helped create a love of learning at Summit.

“They’re really good books,” she said.  “We want to push every kid to learn how to read.”

Follow reporter Sydney Murray on Twitter @sydlm13.

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