This week's column highlights several school-wide initiatives that promote a lifelong love of reading. One favorite among students is the series of author visits. This year authors Beth Kanell, Sy Montgomery, Jim Arnosky, David Martin and Reeve Lindberg have all presented. In addition, several students attended Beth Kanell's book launching in the fall at the Athenaeum.

We host two book fairs each year, one in the fall and one in the spring. During the week of the book fair, students can enter a poster contest, and classrooms can decorate their doors. Older students act as helpers during the book fair, assisting younger students to find and purchase books, stocking shelves, running the library desk, and straightening displays.

We spend the three days following March Town Meeting celebrating reading in Read Across America Week. Approximately 80 community members come in as guest readers for classes. Classrooms buddy up for literacy activities. We hold a building-wide Drop Everything and Read where everyone does exactly that -- stop whatever they are doing and read. This year students also dressed as their favorite character. Throughout the week you could find several people wearing red and white hats resembling the conniving kitty in Dr. Seuss' Cat in the Hat, since Dr. Seuss' birthday falls during Read Across America.

The Everybody Wins mentoring program is held in the library twice a week. This is a reading program that enables mentors and students to read and enjoy lunch together.

Younger students enjoy read-alouds with the Red Clover Books, a set of high quality picture books. Students then get to vote for their favorite book. Older students may join a Dorothy Canfield Fisher Reading Club. The Dorothy Canfield Fisher books are a set of high quality literature, and students in the reading club listen to book talks, recommend favorite books at the club meetings, venture to a local bookstore on book buying trips, and come together for a breakfast where they vote on which book they think should receive the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award. The reading club members then attend a ceremony where the author of the winning book is a keynote speaker.

In the fall, students took on a reading challenge of reading 2,500 books during October. I promised to kiss a goat if the students made that goal. Much to my delight, they were successful, and much to their delight, Alice the goat wandered into the gym during an assembly and received a kiss from me. Now our spring challenge is reading 2,600 books by May 15. I have promised to kiss a llama or an alpaca if students are successful. Wish us luck!

Our sign message this week reads, "PreK and Kindergarten minds are blossoming." Happy Spring!

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