Runkle Students Step Up to the Reading Without Walls Challenge!
In January 2017 Brookline Public Library invited readers to take a new, nationwide reading challenge initiated by National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang.
The goal, Mr. Yang explained, was to have students “read outside their comfort zone,” by participating in his three-part Reading Without Walls Challenge:
For any one of the three challenges successfully completed from January 1 to April 1, students would record their reading on a special slip, turn it in, and claim a reading button. Students could claim one button or all three. As an added incentive, it was announced that Gene Luen Yang would visit Brookline on Thursday April 6, to speak to the Reading Without Walls Challenge readers.
At Runkle, students said yes we’ll take this challenge!
As part of our Literacy work focused on choosing independent reading, classroom teachers and myself encouraged students from 3rd to 5th grade to decide on a book that met one of the challenge criteria. Once reading was completed, their next step was to record a favorite quote, mention an interesting part, or draw a picture from a scene in the story.
The special recording slips started to quickly arrive in the Library! Challenge buttons began to show up pinned to student backpacks and shirts! By the April 1st deadline, 58 students of the total 211 students grades 3-5 had taken the challenge.
For 7th and 8th graders, the Reading Without Walls Challenge became part of their class independent ELA reading goal. Discussions and book talks on this theme were woven into the lessons Ms. Bigda and I prepared for our monthly ELA/Library co-teaching with these classes in the Library. As a result, 66 students out of 132 completed the challenge - this is fully half of all students in 7th and 8th grade!
The culminating event of the Reading Without Walls Challenge took place on Thursday April 6th in the BHS auditorium. Ms. Bigda, Mr. Stoddard and I had the privilege of accompanying 27 seventh and eighth grade Runkle readers to BHS to hear award-winning author and MacArthur “Genius” Fellow Gene Luen Yang speak. This event was the result of a dynamic collaboration between Brookline Public Library YA Librarian Robin Brenner, Brookline Booksmith, and our own BHS Librarians.
In the audience along with over 400 from the BHS community, we heard Mr. Yang explain his passion for comics, the influence his life-experiences as a child of immigrant parents brought to his work, and his commitment to have readers “read outside your comfort zone”. With his intriguing visuals and stories, Mr. Yang inspired us to go forward, continuing to participate and integrate into our lives the deep learning we experienced by taking the Reading Without Walls Challenge.
We are truly grateful to all that made it possible for Runkle students to be part of this event.
To quote the reaction of one Runkle student - it was just awesome!