Reading Challenge Culminates with Trip to Public Library

March 1, 2017 ~ Sometimes it's the little things in life that make the biggest impact. For instance, a thin plastic card emblazoned with the words "Olathe Public Library" made the day for about 60 Northview Elementary students when they realized they could check out books to take home.

Roughly five dozen students were among the 120 children who participated in Northview's winter break reading challenge and earned a trip to the downtown Olathe library. Many of the young readers already had library cards, but organizers of the event wanted to make sure everyone had the opportunity to apply for a card.

"Many kids left the library with a very special gift, a library card," Title I reading teacher Jackie Mayerske said. "That's not something to take for granted. In our high-tech, busy world, we often overlook our library and all of the great resources it offers our community."

A year and a half ago, Mayerske came up with the idea of a reading challenge for her reading support students during Thanksgiving break.

"It was a success and I received very positive feedback from my students," she said. "I shared the success with my colleagues and it was suggested we challenge the entire school with a winter break reading challenge. We were thrilled to have 110 students complete the first challenge."

Enthusiasm stayed strong right through the 2016 spring break reading challenge in which 128 students participated. Both events included a special activity such as a story walk inside the school or an outdoor poetry walk and writing some of their own poems.

"We have tried to center each celebration on something to do with reading," said library media specialist Dawn Mercer. "Each activity has been a success.

"The field trips to the public library were definitely a big hit. Some of our students had never been to the public library before, so they were especially thrilled."

From the moment students got off the school bus saying things like "Hey, I've been here before" or "I'm so excited" it was easy to tell how enthusiastic these students were to have a field trip to the library.

"Not only did our students have the opportunity to get a tour of the library, they also participated in story time and checked out some new books," Mercer said. "For some, getting a library card may put them on the road to becoming lifelong readers!"

Prior to the field trip, Mercer made sure students knew about the Olathe Public Library's special events and activities.

"Spotlighting the public library helps students see the interconnectedness between schools, families and communities," she said. "The library provides wonderful opportunities to get students excited about reading."

Both Mercer and Mayerske were excited about the number of participants in their latest reading challenge, and the fact so many parents applied for new library cards for the students.

"The challenges are about encouraging kids to read at home," Mayerske said. "I love that all of our challenges have ended with celebrations that continue to celebrate and promote a love for reading and literacy. Reading is the true reward."

There are so many books to choose from in the downtown Olathe Public Library, but this boy seemed to have found what he wanted to take home. “You could feel their excitement as they gathered in the library stacks looking for just the right books to check out,” Title I reading teacher Jackie Mayerske said. “Hopefully those library cards will continue to inspire our readers for a lifetime.” Picking out a book
In addition to choosing and checking out a book, Northview students were excited about the other aspects of the library. These girls enjoyed playing with the puppet theater for a few minutes as they explored the children’s area of the downtown library. playing with the puppet theater
Students were given a tour of the children’s area so they would be familiar with what types of books were located in different areas. Then they made themselves comfortable on the floor and began browsing for just the right book. girl looks for books

A visit to the public library allows students to explore the world, literally and figuratively. A clear globe caught the attention of this boy as he looked around in the children’s department. “I was able to go on the field trip twice and enjoyed the buzz and energy as students explored the library and checked out books,” Mayerske said.

boy spins a globe

The ultimate reward for participating in the winter break reading challenge was the opportunity to apply for and receive a library card, and take home two books to enjoy with family.

Photos by Marlene Colgan
girl shows off library card