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Books become a family affair

Elementary school reading club makes reading fun

For second-grader Ricky Southard, reading hasn’t always been fun. He had trouble finishing books; he’d get discouraged.

“I didn’t like to read when I was 6,” Ricky said. “Then I started to get better at it, and it started being more fun.”

Carolyn Casinger, literacy coordinator at East Elementary School, has changed Ricky’s attitude by making reading a bonding activity.



She’s the force behind the Family Book Club, which has the goal of bringing students and families together with the written word.

“Our goal is to bring reading into the home and make it a family affair,” Casinger said.



Southard is excited about the Family Book Club, open to second- to fourth-graders at local elementary schools who are involved in the Title I reading intervention program.

Through Title I, Southard and other students work in small groups during the school day, focusing on reading. He said that makes stories interesting because he can share his ideas with his peers.

The Family Book Club takes that experience and expands it to families.

The club, which has met twice, provides students a free book, The student then discuss the story line with other students.

“It’s fun because you get to read books, and you get to tell what your favorite part of the book is, and you get to color stuff,” Southard said.

At the first meeting, 12 families showed up. On Monday, the club’s second meeting, five families attended.

The program is sponsored by a grant from the Colorado Council International Reading Association. Each student receives a free book to take home and read before the club meetings, which Casinger schedules for three times a year.

“(Ricky) likes reading more, it seems like,” his mother, Channelle Southard, said. “The books are cute. They have some really neat books.”

Southard’s favorite is one titled, “Tornado,” a book about dogs who get caught in a twister. His next book will be “Mr. Whiskers.” He and his family members will discuss the book at the next club meeting, scheduled April 3.

At club meetings, parents spend a half-hour discussing books with their children and a half-hour learning try-at-home reading tips.

Channelle said she offers her son rewards for reading. Yu-Gi-Oh! cards work best.

The prizes, she said, have been paying off.

“His reading has definitely improved, at home and at school,” Channelle said.

Through the club, she said, she has seen the importance of a whole family effort to help Ricky’s reading skills improve.

“If there’s open communication from the beginning, then that makes them want to do it as they get older,” Channelle said.

Casinger said that in her 31 years of teaching, she hasn’t seen a decline in students’ reading skills, but rather a decline in time to commit to literature.

“Kids are more active in sports and extracurricular activities, so there’s less time to sit down and read together,” she said.

That’s why she’s excited about the program and its success.

“When you have a book club, (youths) get to discuss and get excited about the book,” Casinger said.

Ricky is one of those students. He said attending book club and getting family support has made reading enjoyable.

“It’s fun to go with my mom, my grandma and my dad,” Ricky said. “It’s not fun without them.”


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