MARSHALL - What if a person couldn't read this line, a book, a newspaper or even a recipe or a contract? For most, it would limit their opportunities in life. But literacy allows infinite possibilities. Reading is one of the most important aspects of learning in every child's life, allowing a person think, be aware, wonder and explore. It's a basic component to success in life.
This year, Scholastic is celebrating its 90th anniversary of bringing books to children. The company - originally published in 1920 by M.R. Robinson as the Western Pennsylvania Scholastic - launched a world-wide campaign called "Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life," targeting parents, educators, students and their communities to focus on the importance of reading.
At the Marshall High School, the Reading Incentive Program (RIP) for grades 9-12 is celebrating its seventh year, which also coincides with an annual Scholastic book fair, known as the community book sale.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Marshall student Brett Fleahman checks out the book selection at the Scholastic book fair, known as the annual community book sale, in the media center Tuesday at the Marshall High School.
"We call it our community book sale because we try to invite as many people we can in the surrounding communities," said Diane Konjura, Marshall Public Schools K-12 media specialist. "It's our 50 percent off sale, so it's nice to be able to offer that to everyone."
This year, the book sale spans six days, ending today.
"The profits from the book sale are used for our Reading Incentive Program," Konjura said. "We want to make sure our kids are reading as much as they can as often as they can."
The program is open to any student who wants to participate. Typically, more freshman and sophomores are involved more than the upperclassmen. Reading is done at the student's convenience and is logged by the number of minutes spent reading.
"For every hour of reading, the student gets a lottery ticket," Konjura said. "We have weekly drawings. If they win, they're still eligible for the fourth quarter drawings, when the larger prizes are drawn."
Every week, two students in the program receive prizes, one for the over-50 (hours) club and one for the under-50 club. The winners are announced on Tiger TV.
"Our top prize last year was a 19-inch flat screen television," Konjura said. "We've also given away digital cameras, dorm-size refrigerators and Ipod Nanos. Some of the smaller prizes are like $10 gift certificates to places like the movie theater or a University of Minnesota blanket. We'll go into the English classes and ask the students for ideas."
Much has changed during the years for Scholastic, but providing a connection to children via books has not. Norman Bridwell's "Clifford the Big Red Dog" made its debut in 1963. The lovable canine giant is still popular today.
Other series have also made an impact on readers, including the "Magic School Bus," Pony Pal," "Baby-Sitters Club," "Adventures of Captain Underpants," "Dear America," "I Spy," "Goosebumps" and "Harry Potter."
Also making Scholastic's top-90 books in 90 years list were "No, David," "Nothing But the Truth," "Sing a Song of Popcorn," "A Corner of the Universe," "The Thief Lord," "Slam," "Book! Book! Book!" "Dragon Rider," "Duck on a Bike," "Freak the Mighty," "A Drop of Water," "Hush!" "Is Your Mama a Llama?" and "Henry's Freedom Box."
Konjura's favorite author growing up was Roald Dahl, whose timeless classics include "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "James and Giant Peach," "Matilda" "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "The Witches."
"I liked the Roald Dahl books," Konjura said. "I also liked Kevin Henkes, who is from Madison, Wis."
Konjura said the "Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins has been extremely popular.
"They're really good," Konjura said. "They've been on the New York Bestsellers list. I'd say the books are for about sixth-grade level and up."
Brett Fleahman was at the book fair at the MHS Media Center Tuesday, scanning the shelves and tables full of potential reading material.
"I like reading," Fleahman said. "I like 'John Madden's Heroes of Football.'"
Snowflower Yang and Ruwenyda Mohamed were also looking at the books for sale.
"It seems like the most popular books for us teens now is about vampires and zombies," Yang said.
Much like the "Harry Potter" books did, the "Twilight" saga by Stephenie Meyer has been a phenomenon since gripping the teen scene in 2005.
"That's what people are addicted to," Mohamed said. "But I don't always read the really popular books. I like a lot of other stuff. I really liked Dragonfly. I don't always remember the books I've read. But I remember 'Night.' It started out a little boring, but then it got much better."