Franklin Countys First News

RSU9 students take the lead with statewide reading program

The students were featured on the Maine Student Book Awards website as the first nine in the state to read more than 20 books.

FARMINGTON - A group of students in Regional School Unit 9 have been recognized for their bookish ways; the fifth and sixth graders were the first nine in the state to read more than 20 books each from the Maine Student Book Award list.

Four fifth graders from Cascade Brook School got hooked on the program after being introduced to it by librarian Amy Graham, while five students at Mt. Blue Middle School carried on the tradition after starting last year. The Maine Student Book Award list consists of 36 or so titles chosen by a group of librarians across the state. The list is revealed each spring, at which points students can begin the race. The first ten to read 20 or more books get a free t-shirt and are featured on the program's website. This year, nine of those ten were RSU9 faces.

"I went with the books I liked to start, just to get more motivation," fifth-grader Julian Reynolds said.

Julian prefers fast-paced adventure books, while his classmates mentioned historical fiction and mysteries- the list includes a little bit of everything.

"My favorite part about it is that it gets kids to read outside their comfort levels. Kids this age tend to find something they like and stay there, but the list includes fantasy, realistic fiction, graphic novels, really stretches them," Graham said.

Julian read a total of "only 22" books from the list in just four months.

Kali Judkins read 33, but she started earlier. Kali is in fifth grade.

"My strategy was to beat Rowan. I read some that were suggested to me, then the graphic novels, then a bunch of the really thick ones," Kali said.

Rowan's favorite book from the list was "Refugee"- a story that weaves together the tales of three different refugees, bringing them together in the end. It won the statewide student vote as the best book on the list.

"I love how much it has encouraged my daughters to expand their genres. It has been really fun seeing them set this as a goal for themselves," Rowan's mother Cheriese Shanti said.

While some teachers participated in the challenge by reading aloud, or suggesting the books to their students, the project was primarily a student-led initiative.

"I just did it because I love reading. There were so many good books on the list," fifth-grader Kady Grindle said.

The others agreed- the driving factor to reading 20 plus books in such a short time was simply their love of reading. Kady said she doesn't even hear people talking to her when she's reading a good book. Rowan admitted to reading books that have a great cover. Julian sometimes can't go to bed at night, and stays up reading with a flashlight long after his bedtime. And Kali has already started on next year's list.

"I've read, like, 18 already," she said.

"It has opened her mind to many new ideas, cultures and way of life. She has always loved to read and having these lists to choose from have been wonderful," Kali's mom Kimberly Judkins said.

To view the list or get your own child involved, click here.

Students from RSU9 took the lead in this year's Maine Student Book Awards project.

Kali read 33 of the 36 books on the list.

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3 Responses »

  1. Congrats to all of these super readers and super kids!! Also a big thank you to Mrs Graham!

  2. Congratulations to all of these RSU #9 and a special thanks to Amy Graham, the librarian, for her infectious enthusiasm for reading and encouraging these students.!!

  3. Great job! I remember similar contests instilling a love of reading when I was young!