I Love to Read Month

Why would we employ read­ing ini­tia­tives that derail inter­nal read­ing moti­va­tion and divide kids into read­ing win­ners and losers?” 
Don­a­lyn Miller

I Love to Read BookmarkI’ve been think­ing about this ques­tion from lit­er­a­cy guru Don­a­lyn Miller ever since I read it last May. It struck a chord and made me chal­lenge some of my past prac­tices as a cham­pi­on of moti­vat­ing read­ers. What about all that time and effort spent pro­mot­ing read­ing by ask­ing kids to log their min­utes in order to receive some trin­ket total­ly unre­lat­ed to read­ing? Could I have actu­al­ly done more harm than good?

As a long-time com­mit­tee chair for “I Love to Read” month fes­tiv­i­ties at sev­er­al dif­fer­ent schools, the short­est month of the year has always been one of my favorites. While some folks expe­ri­ence visions of hearts and choco­lates when the cal­en­dar page flips to Feb­ru­ary, my head has always been filled with images of books and kids read­ing. As I reflect­ed on that arti­cle by Don­a­lyn, I thought about last year’s “I Love to Read” month awards cer­e­mo­ny. Our stu­dents who met the quo­ta of required read­ing min­utes — or at least claimed they did — were called up on the stage by their teach­ers to receive a cov­et­ed “read­ing medal.” I remem­ber the look on some of the lit­tle faces out in the audi­ence and imag­ined what they were think­ing or feel­ing… “Who cares about read­ing medals?” “I guess I’m not a read­er.” “Maybe I should have just fibbed about those minutes!”

As a firm believ­er in “it’s nev­er too late to change” (for the bet­ter), I vowed to com­plete­ly revamp my approach to encour­ag­ing kids to read. My school com­mu­ni­ty and fab­u­lous “I Love to Read” com­mit­tee co-chairs also embraced the idea of cel­e­brat­ing read­ing for the sake of read­ing. The entire bud­get from our Home-School Asso­ci­a­tion was ear­marked for books, which we pur­chased way back in Sep­tem­ber when Scholas­tic Read­ing Clubs offers the very best bonus points offer (we spent less than $2.00 per book for many high demand and hot-tick­et titles!). The idea of reward­ing read­ing with read­ing is sim­ple and the research to back it up is con­vinc­ing. Yet we know that our kids still hope for some­thing a lit­tle snazzy and jazzy. I’m delight­ed to share how we plan to WOW kids with a month of activ­i­ties designed to affirm every child as a reader!


Sev­er­al weeks ago we designed and ordered spe­cial t‑shirts for our staff. We will be wear­ing these at our kick-off event dur­ing the first week of Feb­ru­ary. This FUN and FREE fam­i­ly event will high­light our theme Read­ing is its own Reward with a “Read­ing is gold­en!” snack bag: Rold Gold pret­zels, Gold­fish gra­ham treats, and a choco­late trea­sure can­dy. Activ­i­ties will include a book swap (kids bring their gen­tly-used books to trade), a book­mark craft, nom­i­nat­ing a favorite book, a brand new book for every child and best of all, a READING CONCERT! The tal­ent­ed edu­ca­tors at my school will be mak­ing one of my buck­et-list wish­es come true, by stag­ing a mini-flash mob, singing “Read with Me” (sung to the Ben E. King song, Stand by Me)! I’ll be shar­ing a video lat­er this month that cap­tures the crowd’s reac­tion to our sur­prise serenade!

EPWCCS educators
From left to right, edu­ca­tors Sam Good­man, Mau­r­na Rome, and Caitlin Meyer

The cen­ter­piece of our cel­e­bra­tion of books and read­ing will be the “Tiger Tro­phy” Awards. Stu­dents will be giv­en a paper “tro­phy award” to fill out each week, nom­i­nat­ing a favorite book. Paper tro­phies will be dis­played around the school. Week­ly book win­ners will be cho­sen from the paper tro­phies and we will also be film­ing stu­dents as they share some­thing about their favorite books.

School-wide Tiger TrophyIn addi­tion, for three weeks, each class­room will award one paper tro­phy to one book that has been cho­sen as a class favorite. Dur­ing the last week of Feb­ru­ary, class­rooms will vote on which of the three paper tro­phy books is their ALL-TIME FAVORITE, which will be award­ed a real class­room tro­phy designed with the ini­tial of each teacher’s last name (cute and inex­pen­sive, made from dol­lar store tro­phies and alpha­bet blocks). All class­room tro­phy books will be eli­gi­ble to win a SCHOOL-WIDE TIGER TROPHY, with a bal­lot of books list­ed in spe­cial cat­e­gories giv­en to each student.

Our “I Love to Read” month activ­i­ty cal­en­dar includes an overview of our live­ly lit­er­a­cy-filled month. We will dis­play our love of a great book with our “Door Dec­o­rat­ing Con­test” (the win­ning class­room will get BOOKS) and each week teach­ers will share short YouTube videos fea­tur­ing 2016 award-win­ning books and authors.

2016 New­bery Medal Award Win­ner: Matt de la Pena Last Stop on Mar­ket Street

2016 Calde­cott Medal Award Win­ner: Lind­say Mattick Find­ing Win­nie, The True Sto­ry of the World’s Most Famous Bear 

Coret­ta Scott King – Vir­ginia Hamil­ton Award for Life­time Achieve­ment Win­ner: Jer­ry Pinkney 

2016 New­bery Hon­or Award Win­ner: Vic­to­ria Jamieson Roller Girl

We will also par­tic­i­pate in a pow­er­ful event called the “African Amer­i­can Read In,” spon­sored by NCTE “cel­e­brat­ing 25 years of encour­ag­ing diver­si­ty in lit­er­a­ture.” More infor­ma­tion and free resources can be found here. The AARI at my school will def­i­nite­ly be a mem­o­rable day for 4th and 5th graders who will be meet­ing Kwame Alexan­der, 2015 New­bery Medal Award Win­ner for the excep­tion­al book Crossover.

I Love to Read Trophies

Our cul­mi­nat­ing event will take place on the last Fri­day in Feb­ru­ary. Dur­ing the finale we will announce our Tiger Tro­phy Award Win­ners and bestow our very own pres­ti­gious medals to the book cov­ers. We’re even plan­ning on send­ing the Tiger Tro­phies to the win­ning authors with a request to snap a self­ie pos­ing with our lit­tle lit­er­ary prize! Oh and about those read­ing medals… this year, EVERY stu­dent will be award­ed one because we know that EVERY CHILD is a read­er and should be rec­og­nized as one!

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David LaRochelle
David LaRochelle
8 years ago

Bra­vo, Mau­r­na, to you and your school for being will­ing to refo­cus a well-intend­ed tra­di­tion and turn it into some­thing more mean­ing­ful for all of your students.