Trailside kicks read-a-thon into gear |

Trailside kicks read-a-thon into gear

Deanie Wimmer, a KSL television news anchor, participated in the Trailside Elementary School read-a-thon kick-off, reading to students in a classroom.
(Courtesy of Lesa Hough)

Every year, it’s the same story at Lesa Hough’s house during the Trailside Elementary School fall read-a-thon.

“It’s like, constantly, my kids trying to figure out when they can read,” said Hough, a parent volunteer and organizer of the read-a-thon. “They want to read before school. They want to listen to an audiobook in the car. They want to read more at bedtime. And that carries out through the rest of the year.”

Teachers at Trailside are hoping all of their students are following the example of Hough’s kids this month. The school kicked off its annual Reach the Peak read-a-thon with a celebration last month, and the event is set to run through October 14.

Robin Williams, Trailside’s principal, said the read-a-thon is always the perfect way to celebrate the beginning of the school year. At the kick-off event, the school enlists the help of local celebrities, such as firefighters, police officers, television news anchors and mayors, who read to students in classrooms.

“We’re starting with that idea that reading is fun and exciting,” she said. “And we’re connecting our kids with role models, people they want to emulate, who love to read. They’re hearing favorite books or passages from some of those people they look up to. I think it’s just a great way to start the year.”

Williams added that one of the best parts of the read-a-thon is that it exposes students to a wide variety of books. It is important for them to read both fiction and information text — and to discover that the latter can be enjoyable, too. That’s why Williams read a book to a fourth-grade class about Utah’s national parks at the kick-off event.

“We actually had a lot of fun with it,” she said. “It sounds like just information, but it was an engaging conversation. It’s about opening up the world to our kids, as well.”

Last year, students read about 500,000 combined minutes in four weeks, or just more than 900 minutes per student. This year, teachers are hoping to see students hit a similar pace, though the read-a-thon will last only three weeks. Classes that reach their goal will hold parties.

Additionally, students will link together paper chains representing the amount of reading time they’ve logged. At the closing read-a-thon ceremony, they will see if they’ve read enough to wrap the chain around the outside of the school.

“Kids just get more and more excited about that culmination of where they’re going with it,” Williams said. “It’s a great motivator.”

She added that the fun and competition of a read-a-thon can build a lifelong love of reading in students.

“In so many ways, it does,” she said. “It’s that idea of elevating and connecting. The kids are reading. They’re seeing role models who are reading. I think it just bumps it up a notch for them. It’s just a way to reinforce reading as something that really matters, and it’s something we celebrate at Trailside.”

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