All About the Children

Samoset students off to the races for #samosetreads challenge

A simple hash tag, ubiquitous in today’s culture, will help propel Samoset Elementary School students toward a love of reading.

On Friday, the last day before Thanksgiving break, the school kicked off #samosetreads, a program to encourage students at the school to read 6,000 books as fast as they can. A huge chart in the front lobby, decorated by one of the staff member’s husbands, will track the progress. Famous literary characters, including Harry Potter, The Little Mermaid, Arthur and Dora the Explorer surround the 60 now-empty book spines. As the students finish 100 books, one book spine will be colored in.

“This goal has more to do with reading for pleasure,” Principal Maribeth Mason said Friday.

Students will be encouraged to read at home with their parents and fill out log sheets. A recent Halloween trunk-or-treat event, where students could trick-or-treat in the parking lot, included a lot of new books going home with the students.

The kickoff campaign began with a school-wide assembly in the morning, where the Southeast High School drumline and cheerleaders performed. Then, guest readers headed into every classroom throughout the morning.

Although the chart in the lobby is categorized by the number of books, the charting actually will be split by minutes. For example, a kindergarten student who reads for 20 minutes will finish one book. But for fifth-grade students to finish one book, they’ll need to read for about 70 minutes.

A survey among first-graders revealed high hopes and high goals.

“I’m going to read 1,000 books,” a student shouted out.

“I’m going to read infinity books,” another declared.

Mason said she isn’t sure how quickly the students can reach the 6,000-book goal. But if they do, the school will just up the ante, challenging students to read 7,000 or 8,000.

For the most part, the youngest readers said they enjoy books about superheroes, like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk and Ant-Man.

But while superheroes are always popular, so are dinosaurs. Deputy Superintendent of Instruction Cynthia Saunders read a book called “Dinosaurs Love Tacos” to the students. The students in Palak Trivedi’s second-grade class learned that dinosaurs do not like spicy toppings on their tacos — it makes their stomachs upset, according to the book.

Superintendent Diana Greene’s book, read to a class in the media center, had a slightly different message. The book, called “The Energy Bus for Kids,” encouraged students to fill their lives with positive energy.

One of the book’s main messages? Love the passengers on your bus, which can include family and friends.

“I think I’m going to take that one home with me,” Greene said.