Spotlight on Students

Book-a-Day challenge brings joy to eager young readers

by Corey Peña

Students in Laura Whitaker’s second-grade classroom at Smith Elementary are working their way through 180 days of reading tied to specific themes in the curriculum, including a Positivity Project objective. This reading-for-pleasure project was planned during the summer and rolled out on the first day of school.

In anticipation of this reading project, the hallway was lined with laminated images of each book. Most books are now in the classroom library, a few of them graciously gifted by community members. Read-aloud books that are found online can be read over again through the use of StorylineOnline.

In February, through the characters they met in their daily story, students learned about Black History, President’s Day, and using self-control. All of the students LOVE the stories, and when Whitaker is out for the day, the students make sure the guest teacher reads the book left by their teacher!

Lily Monette said that this project has given her a reason to read a little more and loves Dog Man by Dav Pilkey and The Turkey Halloween by Wendi Silvano. According to Whitaker, “Lily takes her learning very seriously, participates in all of the themes, including bringing books to share with the class, loves to discuss the characters and is a positive role model for her classmates.”

Zoey Baxter said that she really likes getting to choose her own books and loves The Good Egg by Jory John and Pete Oswald because it is a book about friends. Whitaker says, “Zoey Baxter may be the hardest worker in class. She likes all of the stories and often looks for more by favored authors. She can always be counted on and often takes on leadership roles.”

Adrian Pheils loves to read Elephant & Piggy books by Mo Willems and his StorylineOnline favorite is Arnie the Doughnut read by Chris O’Dowd because, “He is suuuper funny!” And Whitaker has noticed, “Adrian Pheils loves to have the stories posted online so he can read and hear them over and over, including during free choice time. He will remind me if we have missed, or are late for our reading time.”

As for the daily read aloud, this engaging teacher adds, “My whole goal for this project, and creating the display, is to help promote a love of books and reading—in all genres and themes, both physical books and online books, so students have a chance to be exposed to different kinds of literature.”

She points out that the class has its favorites. “The students are always excited to see the favorites, especially the Turkey Trouble books. We also read a chapter book each day, and this year my class is obsessed with the Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner!”

Students at Smith Elementary are looking forward to “March is Reading Month” activities; it will give them motivation to read books for fun and rack up those reading points!

Left to right: Adrian Pheils, Lily Monette, and Zoey Baxter were introduced to three of their favorite books and authors during the book-a-day challenge. Photo credit: Corey Peña

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