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East County Wednesday, May 20, 2009 13 years ago

McNeal Book Club inspires reading

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

LAKEWOOD RANCH — Sitting quietly at his desk, 10-year-old Davontay Seabrooks opens a copy of “A Silly Science Experiment” and begins to read.

Within a matter of minutes, the McNeal Elementary third-grader is completely engrossed in the story. His eyes remain glued to the page with only a smile and an occasional fit of laughter breaking him out of his reverie.

Over the course of the school year, Seabrooks has developed a love for reading. But there was a time not that long ago when reading was more a chore than an adventure. But midway through the school year, Seabrooks joined his class’ book club, and within a matter of months, he had increased his reading ability by two grade levels.

“It looked like fun, and I love to read books,” Seabrooks said of joining the club. “You get to talk about books and how many books you’ve read … it’s really fun.”

Teacher Carolyn Winget started the voluntary book club program three years ago as a way to engage her students and encourage lifelong reading. The class read three books the first year, and in following years, the students have continually surpassed that number. This year’s class already has read six books.

“It’s an independent, on-their-own-time book club,” Winget said. “It’s a way to reward hard work and encourage life long reading, and hopefully as adults they’ll continue to read literature.”

This year, the class has read “Clementine’s Letter,” “Monday with a Mad Genius” and “The Tale of Despereaux,” among other titles. Winget said she tries to select titles with a vast appeal and attainable reading level for her students.

With some of her students still struggling to read chapter books, participation in the book club has allowed her students to support one another and grow as readers.

“They like the social aspect of it,” Winget said. “They like to have that camaraderie with each other. They’re sharing books and talking about books. It’s not just one little space in time — it’s beyond that, so it’s nice to see.”

Those students participating in the book club typically spend three to four weeks reading the book on their own time. About eight to 15 students take part in each book club. While the students are reading the book, Winget usually spends a few minutes every Friday discussing the book with her students.

Once the students have all finished reading the book, the group then meets with Winget one morning before school to discuss the book over Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins and juice.

“I like that we get to talk about the books all together, and I like that every single book has its own thing about it,” 9-year-old Lindsay Chamberlain said.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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