Gains in Reading
We Read Big did not begin until the start of January 2017. Since that time, our students have devoured the books on these newly assembled shelves and have been immersed in independent reading at rates that we have not seen in our school system (at least in quite sometime). Students read 264,345 minutes in the middle school by the beginning of May, and our small middle school student body read approximately 300,000 minutes by the end of the school year. The relationship that children are having with literature is shifting for the positive and that will make all of the difference for them in the long run.
Celebrating Initial Success
On to June 14th to celebrate this milestone, our partners at Scholastic secured a wonderful guest speaker for us, Jarrett Krosczaka. If you are not familiar with Jarrett’s work, then you should become acquainted! Jarrett is a New York Times bestselling author, two-time winner of the Children’s Choice Book Award for the Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year, an Eisner award nominee, and is the author and/ or illustrator of more than thirty books for young readers. His work includes several picture books, select volumes of Star Wars: Jedi Academy, the Lunch Lady graphic novels, and Platypus Police Squad novel series. Jarrett has given two TED Talks, both of which have been curated to the main page of TED.com and have collectively accrued more than two million views online. He is also the host of The Book Report with JJK on SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live, a weekly segment celebrating books, authors, and reading.
Jarrett was amazing. He understood our students having grown up in Worcester (which is
just a couple of towns over from Southbridge). He immediately connected with even the most skeptical middle schooler as he shared elements of his challenging childhood. His engaging and inspiring presentation led us through his journey of rejection, perseverance, and ultimately success. Several students have since approached me to tell me how great he was and how his message was inspiring.
Jarrett was not our only attraction. Our amazing Middle School band played a John Williams tribute (fitting for an author of the Jedi Academy) and one of our student poets, Merrysa Gonzalez, shared a beautiful poem in tribute to her uncle. These students made us proud!
Looking to Build on our Success for Next Year
While We Read Big has been a success, there is so much more for us to accomplish. Our goal is to read 1,000,000 minutes during the following academic year. We are launching our Literacy Ambassador program (in which middle school students will be heading to the elementary schools to read to younger students), a student authored book review page on this blog, and arming our teachers with better tools to confer with student’s about their independent reading. Next year will be bigger and better than last. Stay tuned!