Moffat County fourth and fifth graders are going places.
Their passports are covered in stamps, but not stamps from countries, rather stamps that represent books they have read.
Through the new Passport to Reading program, developed by librarian James Neton, of Moffat County High School, students in those grades across the district are being encouraged to read books of all different genres. For their efforts, students will receive a stamp in "passports" they are given as part of the program.
The passports have pages for different genres. With 33 genres in all, students must receive stamps on 20 of the 33 pages during the course of the school year to be eligible for an end of the year party/barbecue at Loudy Simpson Park.
Neton said he had principals asking him for ideas on how to get teachers and librarians to interact over curriculum. The program is his answer, which he hops encourages cooperation and communication between the peer groups.
“If the class is studying a period of Colorado history, why not encourage the student to go to the library and read a historical fiction piece about that time period,” Neton said.
Neton said he also has other goals for the program, like promoting a love of reading that becomes an intellectual curiosity, motivating students to read books outside their normal interests, and developing and promoting school and community pride.
He said he hopes the program will use genre specific reading to supplement classroom curriculum, leading students to recommend ideas for books in their libraries while allowing teachers and librarians to take stock of books they have.
Bonnie Thompson, librarian for Sunset Elementary School, said the program seems promising because anytime students have peers participating, they are apt to participate to.
“Sometimes being young and not having a lot of books under their belt, kids might not realize they like something else. Just like eating something new. Then they try something and think, ‘hey I like this.’ The hope is to broaden their horizons,” Thompson said.
To be eligible for a stamp, books read by students must be at or near the student’s reading level, then the student must take an accelerated reader test on the computer for that book. Students must receive an 80 percent or better to pass the test and receive their stamp.
Running concurrently with the program will be a Book Reading Drive. If all fourth and fifth graders in the district, roughly 350, read about 7,000 books total, they will earn money to buy books for their libraries.
Neton plans to purchase the books with $2,000 he already has received from the Craig Rotary Club and other grants he plans to apply for.
All students at the end of the year party will receive a certificate of completion, eight students from each grade will be recognized as “most improved,” and prizes will be awarded for the top three students from each school who read the most books along with a prize for the overall book-reading champion.
Some of the genres students may choose from are historical fiction, memoir, recipe, local newspaper and electronic resources.
“What we want to see is the passport program blossom over the course of their education into a joy of reading and learning,” Neton said.
Darian can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org