This past school year, Ms. Pinkston’s second grade class from Bayard Taylor Elementary surprised the Free Library with a new way to look at our Online Reading Challenge. During the Winter and Spring Reading Challenges, they read, wrote, and learned together, while also sharing their experience with us. Read their story and learn how you can participate in online reading throughout the year!
The class enrolled in the Online Reading Challenge for Classrooms after their teacher, Ms. Pinkston, learned about it during one of the library’s Teacher Café events. Ms. Pinkston, who regularly participates in the Summer of Wonder reading program, was "super excited" that she could share this experience through the year-round online challenge with her students. "I started off with the Winter Challenge and reading African-American centered books for Black History Month with my class and having them share their thoughts."
These thoughts soon became the book reviews that first caught the attention of the library’s online reading staff. Over the winter and spring months, we received several thoughtful book reviews from Room 34, beginning with a review of Dianne Ochiltree’s book, Molly, by Golly:
"This book is about Molly Williams, the first female firefighter in the United States of America. It was a blizzard and Molly stepped in to help save a house from a fire. Molly was a very brave woman. She lets us know that we can do anything if we try."
As the school year progressed, the class gained confidence in expressing and writing their views. The last book review from Room 34 is about the Geronimo Stilton book, I’m Too Fond of My Fur:
"Geronimo is on an adventure to find his friends, Professor Von Volt and the Abominable Snowman (a yeti). It starts off with Geronimo being afraid that he is losing his fur and becoming bald. He goes on a trip with his family to Mount Everest. There are a lot of funny moments. There are parts that will make you worry about Geronimo's safety. There are times that his family doesn't believe him and makes fun of him. The ending was completely unexpected. We give this book two thumbs up because it was awesome!"
Ms. Pinkston explained that writing the book reviews together as a class helped her students "learn how to summarize and voice their opinions in a clear manner." We agree. Great work, Room 34!
In total, Room 34 logged 7,920 reading minutes during the Winter and Spring Challenges. They read biographies and books about earthquakes, alongside books about their favorite characters such as Junie B. Jones and Mo Willem’s Pigeon series of books.
The class also completed fun reading activities together. Ms. Pinkston reported that some children even shared these activities with their families. Last spring, Room 34 earned an activity badge for participating in "Drop Everything and Read Day," as written about in Beverly Cleary’s classic children’s novel, Ramona Quimby, Age 8. The children also shared what they learned to earn the "Found Poetry" badge during National Poetry Month. "We learned how to write haiku poetry and acrostics. We like to write both. We like the structure of the haiku poems. We also liked to write acrostic poems because they don't look like 'normal' poems."
When asked what they liked about the online reading challenge, some children said that they liked the different book recommendations and that they could learn about books. Others said they liked that there were things to do besides reading. And still others said that they liked giving reviews and were excited to share a little about the stories with other kids. While the students of Room 34 might have different opinions about their favorite part of the challenge, it’s clear it was a hit overall.
The Free Library's Fall Online Reading Challenge runs from September 16 through November 16. You can sign up as an individual or group, or join the classroom challenge. Use the program to help you track the books or minutes you read this fall, find a great new book through peer book recommendations from Room 34 and other online readers, write your own book reviews, and discover more ways to use the library’s diverse online resources.
As Ms. Pinkston says about the online reading challenge, "Just have fun with it!"