KAYENTA, Ariz. - Kayenta Middle School will kick off eight weeks of activities related to reading on Read Across America Day and Dr. Seuss' birthday March 3 to inspire its students to learn to enjoy reading for fun.
"There are a lot of different types of reading," said David Hawley, principal of Kayenta Middle School. "It's not just a novel... it can be directions, maps, or other things."
Hawley said the school board issued a proclamation making March 3 a day the school will try and get community members to the school to participate in activities and to talk about how reading helps them in their jobs.
Jessica Samuel, the librarian at Kayenta Middle School, coordinates the reading activities. She said this is the third year the school has participated. The school puts on a read-a-thon starting on Read Across America Day.
The teachers in the school pick out Dr. Seuss books or their favorite storybooks from childhood and read those aloud to their classes during the day. The students keep reading logs and teachers encourage them to read at least 20 minutes nightly.
"Something for their enjoyment, something of their choice," Samuel said.
To try and get older kids involved, the teachers brainstormed to come up with some new ideas. When teachers see a student reading by choice during the day when they are done with their class work, they give the student a ticket. Having a lot of tickets helps the students in the competition. The students also complete book reviews on the computerized library system to encourage other students to read those same books.
"It has helped and we saw their participation rise," Samuel said.
This year, all grades have access to a program called Accelerated Reader, which provides a quiz at the end of the book to check the students' comprehension of that book. The students in different grade levels will compete against each other and the Accelerated Reader program will be used to monitor points and the average percent correct. The teachers will also compete in their own separate group.
"At the end, we honor the top students regardless of grade," Samuel said.
Last year, the student council gave the three top students Kindle Fire tablets and $30 gift certificates to use with the Kindles as a reward so they could continue their reading. The participants of the winning grade level received a trip to Laguna Creek so they could play in the water.
Samuel said usually their program ends on April 12, which is Drop Everything and Read day, but this year their activities will extend through the Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards testing.
"After testing we'll take a big sigh and we'll get to celebrate all the winners," Samuel said.
The goal of the eight weeks is to show the students that reading can be done for enjoyment and they can read anything.
"It can be comics, newspapers or maps. We are trying to foster habitual reading." Samuel said. "But the whole read-a-thon is not assigned books, it's not the novel the teacher is making you read for class. It is what you choose, what you're interested in."