Tips From Book-Loving Kids and Experts
Darianna Hubbard, Christine Do and Randle Kerr share a common bond. They are voracious readers.
Randle, a lively, graduated Patrick Henry Elementary School student, surrounds himself with books every night at bedtime. “I read a little bit of one than check under my bed and find another I want to read,” he said. “Sometimes I can’t fall asleep because I just want to read my books. When I wake up in the morning, I usually have a book resting on me.”
Christine, a Patrick Henry fifth grader, said she sometimes misses what goes on in math class because she has her nose in a book. “My teachers have to remind me to put away my book and pay attention,” Do admitted with a sly smile.
And Darianna, an Edison Middle School seventh grader, just loves to read and comes from a family of readers. “I slowly over the years started to read,” she said. “I would read the back of books. My family reads books every night and I read to my siblings. I remember my dad and grandma reading books to me when I was young. “
Randle enjoys Sherlock Holmes books. He can locate any book in the Patrick Henry Library, and Kristi Merchant, the school librarian, says her guess is that he has read every book in their library. “He is in here every day reading and discovering new books and discussing books he has read.”
Christine enjoys science fiction with a mythological theme and the classics. She will travel with her family to Korea this summer and plans to take a lot of books to read.
Darianna prefers mysteries and horror books. She regularly scans the Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Awards list to discover new books to read.
The Sequoyah Book Awards was created in 1959 to honor the Native American leader Sequoyah for his unique achievement in creating the Cherokee syllabary. Each year the Sequoyah Committee awards an outstanding book in three categories: Children’s, Young Adult and High School.
“The Sequoyah Book lists are a great start for parents and young readers to locate good books to enjoy over the summer months,” said Ellen Duecker, director of Library and Media Director for Tulsa Public Schools (TPS).
“During the summer it is important for parents to create a culture of reading in their home,” Duecker said. “Parents can model reading to their children by spending time themselves reading during the day or evening. And parents should show an interest in what their children are reading and have a conversation about the books.”
James Kim, assistant professor of education at Harvard University, said with the prevalence of television computers and other electronic distractions parents, teachers and librarians must encourage kids to immerse themselves in another escape, books. In an interview with the National Summer Learning Association, Kim said, “Children who read a lot over the summertime sustain reading comprehension and vocabulary.”
Kim advises parents to guide kids to the appropriate age-level books. “Reading is more effective when parents or family members can provide reading guidance and make sure that kids understand what they’re reading. Reading can be both a solitary activity and a social activity that fosters learning and recreation.”
If your child is a reluctant reader, Duecker recommends listening to books on tape. “When a family is on a summer car trip, they can listen to a book on tape together. This creates an atmosphere of listening and learning together.”
Many times, Duecker said, it just takes the right book for the right child to kick-start that love of reading. TPS reading initiative “Tulsa Reads Millions” encourages students district-wide, from kindergarten to seniors to pick up a book and read. The program is designed to promote literacy by challenging every TPS student to read at least a million words each year.
A million words, said Duecker, is approximately 500 picture books for very young students to about 20 minutes of reading in school and at home for older students. “As reading increases, so does academic achievement and reading proficiency.”
Randle, Christine and Darianna are all consistently on their school’s honor roll. “I think reading has made my classes easier. I understand bigger words and can read my assignments faster,” Darianna said.
TPS librarians create fun reading initiatives at their schools to encourage students to read during the school year and the summer. Merchant’s “Reading Road Trip” at Patrick Henry lets students earn miles by how long they read. “Each summer we pretend to travel to a different place on the map and learn about that place,” she said. “The kids really get excited about this and email me their reading miles throughout the summer.“
During the school year, Merchant holds the “100 Book Club” challenge. “Each class is encouraged to read 100 books by the 100th day of school,” she said. “This past year I believe every class achieved the challenge. I continue to try to find ways to help my students discover a love of reading.”
Randle’s love of reading is quite evident. He reluctantly donated a box of his books to the Patrick Henry Book Swap in the spring. “I had a hard time parting with my books. I was a tiny bit sad, but glad I donated them because it is for a good cause. And I will get some new books. I love all my books. I will read them over and over again. And I promised my mom I would not pick out some of my old books and bring them back home,” Randle smiled.
Tulsa Public School’s Librarian Book Recommendations
for Summer Reading
Robin Leach, librarian, Edison Preparatory School
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Positively by Courtney Sheinmel
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia
The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
Legend by Marie Lu
Ellen Duecker, library & media director, Tulsa Public Schools
We Are In A Book by Mo Willems
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Kristi Merchant, librarian, Patrick Henry Elementary School
Younger grades - PreK through about 2nd grade:
My Weird School series by Dan Gutman
An Elephant & Piggie Book by Mo Willems
A Spot-It Challenge book by Jennifer Marks
All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon
Star Wars ABC by Lucas Films
Older grades - 3rd through 5th grade
The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
Twisted Journeys - this is a series written by different authors
Captured by Pirates by Justine & Ron Fontes
The latest Rick Riordan mythology series - the 1st title is
The Red Pyramid, and the 3rd title just came out called
The Serpent’s Shadow
My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
Sequoya Book Award Lists -The Oklahoma Library Association, www.oklibs.org. Click on “Awards” and “Sequoya Book Award”
Also visit The Horn Book, www.hbook.com. Founded in 1924, The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide, as their website states, “are the most distinguished journals in the field of children’s and young adult literature.” The Horn Book Guide Online is a database of more than 80,000 reviews. You can also sign up for a monthly e-newsletter for parents.