Every other Thursday, everybody's reading 2012.02.15

Written by David Green.

elem.book club.groupBy DAVID GREEN

Morenci Elementary School Title I teacher Janet Oyer thought about starting a book club for students at the start of the current school year. 

She didn’t do anything about it then, but she didn’t let the idea drop.

Finally, as December was winding down, she made her move and announced the idea to students. She limited the club to those in second, third and fourth grades, and she gave this caution: It’s for students who like to read.

It wouldn’t be a time to get together and talk; it was really for reading.

She wasn’t sure how it would go over, but she soon discovered that books are not a relic from the past for Morenci’s youngsters.

“I was expecting about 10 kids and now I have more than 60 signed up,” she said.

That’s 60 kids who settle down on the school library floor and quietly read.

The book club meets every two weeks on Thursday for an hour after school. Each session starts with Mrs. Oyer reading to the children while they enjoy snacks.

Then everyone breaks up into smaller groups or on their own to read for half an hour. During that time many children walk down to the computer lab to take an Accelerated Reader (AR) test about the book they last read.

Some students want to raise their AR point total to compete with other readers; others are just there for the enjoyment of a good book. Those spending time with the longer chapter books are generally less likely to bother with the tests.

Mrs. Oyer is right there on the floor reading her own book because she thinks it’s important for students to see adults reading for pleasure.

During the last 15 minutes of each session, students read to each other to practice reading aloud.

She’s thinking about an end-of-the-school year event—a field trip, perhaps, or a guest speaker—but for now the club will stick with the routine Mrs. Oyer has established. Last week’s session was just the third time the group has met.

She knows the club is proving popular when she hears from other teachers that students are talking about it. 

“Kids come up to me in the hallway and ask, ‘Is Reading Club tomorrow?’” she said, and they’re disappointed if it’s not until the following Thursday.

“They seem very excited about it,” she said. “And they’re reading.”

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