Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District

Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District News Article

Rox El Committed to Making Reading Fun for Students

Apr. 12, 2022 -- Reading is supposed to be something we do to relax and unwind. A hobby that we chose over other hobbies when we have downtime, something we can’t wait to get back to. It should be an opportunity to laugh, cry, meet new characters, explore new worlds, or escape this one. 

Roxboro Elementary’s Literacy committee has been trying to put the fun back into reading, by exposing students to more and more genres of literature and getting more and more books into their hands. They want kids to want to read, not just do it to fill in their twenty minutes on a reading log each night. 

With a Deep Learning grant to support literacy from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, the school launched after-school book clubs, clustered by grade level. Lake Erie Ink ran ten free two-hour sessions for grades K-1, 2-3, and 4-5. Books were chosen by the students themselves, who all received copies to take home plus extras for their classroom and school libraries. There were lots of games, hands-on activities and art projects that went along with the books students were reading.

Lake Erie Ink is now convening a free after-school Writers’ Club for 3rd through 5th graders. Each student will write something of their choosing – a poem, story, personal essay or narrative – that will be included in a printed and bound anthology.

The 4th and 5th graders recently enjoyed an in-person visit from middle grades author Justin A. Reynolds, whose new book “It’s the End of the World and I’m in my Bathing Suit” was just released by Scholastic. The “outrageously hilarious” story follows five unsupervised tweens as they face the apocalypse instead of enjoying the much-anticipated Beach Bash. 

Between PTA funding and the literacy grant, every Rox El student is being gifted one brand new book each month of this year. The school is making thoughtful decisions about how to stock its free Book Vending Machine. For example, after classrooms read the first book in a series, the second books of those series were placed in the vending machine. “They went so fast,” said parent Mary Pat Jolivette.

With a nod to April Fool’s Day, this month’s books are all silly, humor or joke books. “If kids have fun doing it, they’ll do more of it on their own,” reasons Ms. Jolivette. The available books had a STEM theme in March and will turn into mysteries in May, complete with an Escape Room challenge during school.

The only time the students were all gifted the same book, instead of selecting their own, was in December when every student in each grade received the same book to read while they were home over Winter Break, connecting them to school and to one another. The books, which came wrapped in stacks to mimic snowmen, were accompanied by a hot chocolate packet, making the idea of receiving a book as a gift even more exciting. When students returned in January, they enjoyed Book Parties during library time to discuss the stories. Proving yet again, that reading is fun.
Rox El Justin A Reynolds 
Rox El Winter Break Reading 

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