Meneley Elementary readers hit 500-book schoolyear goal
Most of the students in Meneley Elementary teacher Jessica Radke’s third-grade class didn’t own a book that comes in chapters at the beginning of the year.
“Most of the class started the year reading below grade level so there wasn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm to read,” she said. “Hardly any students had books at home, and most didn’t have parental support for homework or reading.”
More than half of the students at Meneley receive free or reduced lunches.
So at the beginning of the school year, she and the class negotiated an ambitious reading schedule.
“The kids actually picked 100 books because they thought it was impossible and then I said 500,” Radke said. “Five hundred is such a huge number for kids so they were like, ‘We’ll never read that many books.’”
While reading was certainly part of the program, Radke’s real goal was to show her students they could achieve something they thought they couldn’t do.
“The whole point was to show them they could achieve ‘impossible’ things if they worked hard and focused on small successes,” she said. “I wanted them to know they are capable of doing anything regardless of their circumstance.”
She also wanted all of them to enjoy reading by the end of the year. Each 8-year-old student needed to read a minimum of 2.5 chapter books per month.
“I made a poster and each time a student completed a chapter book, they’d add to the total,” Radke said. “They were so excited to see the numbers going up.”
Her class reached the goal of 500 chapter books by mid-May.
“I’m so incredibly proud of my kids. They worked as a team to reach an impossible goal and are better readers because of it. I hope this school year has encouraged a love for reading that will carry on throughout their lives.”