Fourth-grader Matthew Jessen reads an R.L. Stine "Goosebumps" book Wednesday afternoon in Ty Kuberry's class at Sandrock Elementary School. Fourth- and fifth-graders from across the school district are involved in the Passport to Reading program, which encourages reading books from a variety of genres.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Fourth-grader Matthew Jessen reads an R.L. Stine "Goosebumps" book Wednesday afternoon in Ty Kuberry's class at Sandrock Elementary School. Fourth- and fifth-graders from across the school district are involved in the Passport to Reading program, which encourages reading books from a variety of genres.

Passport to Reading gets 4th-, 5th-graders turning pages

— Three hundred and fifty kids. Twenty books apiece.

That amounts to thousands upon thousands of pages, paragraphs and words, but if each eligible Moffat County School District student reads a minimal amount, not only will they get a reward at the end of the year, but their libraries will be able to return their hard work back to them.

Now that the school year is in effect, the Passport to Reading program is in full swing with Craig’s fourth- and fifth-graders hitting the books with determination.

Organizer James Neton, librarian for Moffat County High School, said the initial response to the program has been even better than when he first started it last year.

Readers receive a mock passport to record their progress, ready to be stamped in multiple genres. Those who get at least 20 stamps will be able to attend an end-of-year barbecue, and other prizes also will be available in the spring for the highest-achieving and most-improved readers in each school.

For kids who are in their second year, the challenge already is a familiar one. Sandrock Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Amy Tague said each of her pupils last year got the minimum 20 stamps, and she fully expects this year’s class will be able to do the same.

“They’re very pumped about the prizes, and even earning the stamps is motivation enough for them,” she said.

Within the classrooms, the desks of the participating students are three to four books deep come reading time with the likes of Beverly Cleary, John R. Erickson, Judy Blume and many other authors for young readers. Ridgeview Elementary School fourth-grade teacher Heather Trapp said her students especially are excited about the program, privy to buzz about it from when they were in third grade.

“They’ve heard about it already, so they already know what’s in store for them,” she said.

Some students began earning stamps before they even received their passport, Trapp said.

“It pushes their boundaries with different genres and different kinds of books,” she said. “That’s where they need to be vigilant, and that’s where some of the kids last year got tripped up.”

Trapp’s student Merinda Bartholomew already has received one stamp for the chapter book “Santa Claus Doesn’t Mop Floors,” and she’s already got bookmarks midway through an installment in the “Animorphs” series and in a large textbook about Colorado history.

In order to earn a stamp, readers must either pass a computer test on their latest book or present a project on what they’ve learned. A popular project in schools is to bring in the edible results of their Recipe stamp.

“My mom’s got this big cookbook, and I want to make something from that,” Merinda said.

Students already are well on their way to the 20 stamps, some striving to fill their passport as quickly as possible.

“I want to break the record from last year, but that’s going to be a lot of books,” said Shaylee Patterson, of Ty Kuberry’s fourth-grade class at Sandrock.

Neton said his own goal is to have every fourth- and fifth-grader in the district get the minimum 20 stamps. A total of 7,000 books read means the program will receive additional funding from Friends of Moffat County Education, Rotary Club of Craig and the Human Resources Council of Moffat County United Way, funds which will be used for the end-of-year incentives as well as to bring more books into the schools’ libraries.

“We’re really hoping to get more of the nonfiction books because those are the ones where some kids are having trouble getting stamps,” Neton said.

As many genres as there are within the passports, there are students who prefer one over another. Kadin Hume, of Kuberry’s class, said he likes informational books the most, most recently perusing a book about flags.

“I learned about what they mean and what all the colors mean,” he said.

Kadin said he also wants to pick up some books about military history.

“I hope they get more book like that in the library,” he said.

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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