It’s not too often you see a roomful of kids crossing their fingers and saying prayers that they’ll get to read a book.
But that’s exactly what happened Thursday during inaugural meeting of “Reading with the Stars,” a new afternoon reading club.
Third-grade teachers Bonnie Bucholz and Michelle Greco held a raffle to pick which 10 kids would get first crack at reading “Swindle,” a new addition to the Lace library chosen by Principal Marty Casey.
Each month during the school year a different “star,” or teacher, will pick a book and read a few passages to the kids to pique their interest in the selection.
Already, every staff member — including the lunchroom ladies — has chosen a favorite kid-friendly book as a “Red Hot Read” that’s displayed outside their classroom or office. Staff members will pick a new Red Hot Read on a monthly basis.
“We hope the program will increase students' enthusiasm for reading by establishing or creating an atmosphere that shows our students that reading is a huge priority at Lace, not just for students but for everyone in the building,” Bucholz said.
Bucholz and Greco got the idea for "Reading with the Stars" after hearing author and literacy advocate Steven Layne speak at a reading conference in 2009 about students who graduate being able to read but not wanting to.
His talk inspired them to apply for grants from the Darien Rotary and Darien Education Foundation to help fund the program.
Once the first 10 students read each of the nine books highlighted this year, five copies of each will go into the Lace library and the other five will be raffled off into individual classroom libraries.
Casey said he liked “Swindle” so much when he read it two years ago with his sixth-grader son that it was an easy choice for his first Red Hot Read selection. He also has a pet Great Dane like the one who plays a pivotal role in the story.
“After you go to bed, it’s the kind of book you’ll sneak under your blanket with a flashlight,” he told the kids.
The 10 students who won first-read rights in the raffle will join Casey for a special lunch to discuss the book after they read it. They’ll also get their names placed on a sticker inside the book that says, “This Book was First Read by…”
“Hopefully students will want to be one of the first readers of each book presented and be able to sign their names in the books,” Bucholz said. “We have also encouraged teachers to do this within their classrooms with their new library books.”
Next up at the end of October will be beginning band teacher Joey Bonanotte, who said he has yet to make his official star selection. He’s leaning toward a Halloween theme.
Regardless what book he chooses, he’ll be presenting it to an eager audience.
Bucholz said you can hear students commenting on the Red Hot Reads as they walk down the hallways.
“Already the Hot Reads are making their presence known!” she said.