25 Book Challenge

by Anthony Robinson

High-school life can be chaotic. From schoolwork to extracurricular activities, students seem to have no free time.  Finding time to read non-school related material may be the last task on students’ minds.

Students who attended classes during their elementary and middle school years in the Atlantic Community School District took part in the Accelerated Reader (AR) program. AR consisted of computerized multiple-choice answer quizzes for books read. Each quiz was worth a certain number of points.  For many reading classes throughout elementary school, students were given individualized point goals to aim for.  Once these goals were achieved, students were awarded anything from a sticker to an end-of-the-year pizza party. During middle school, students were to achieve a set amount of points as part of their reading grade. If students didn’t reach their goals, it affected their grades.

In high school, there is not an incentive for individual reading.  It’s not part of a grade and many students don’t believe it is necessary to read unassigned books. Sometimes students get frustrated because they have been forced to read a number of books for English class that they have absolutely no interest in.

Sophomore Alan Kleppinger encourages others to “Find a book that interests them.  You can’t force them to read a book they don’t want to.”

According to the Iowa Core Curriculum, students in high school should read 25 books “based on individual interest and abilities,” yearly. Students are encouraged to read books from a wide variety of subjects and a wide variety of sources. Reading should be continued throughout individuals’ lives to improve or maintain their vocabulary, reading comprehension, and their attention spans.

At AHS, English classes are encouraging students to read 25 books during the school year. This means in order to achieve this goal, students should read about twelve books per semester or roughly one book very week and a half. In the various English classrooms students can record the amount of books they read.

Senior Cody Mudd is well on his way to the 25-book goal, having read 18 books by the fourteenth week of school.  Mudd suggests other AHS students to read You Don’t Know Me by David Klass.

It doesn’t matter what type of books students are reading, all that matters is that student continue to read throughout their high school years and for the rest of their lives.

English teacher Allison Berryhill initiated the 25-book challenge with her students last year.  “When I read the Iowa Core recommendation, my first thought was, ‘Oh kids won’t read that much.’  Then I thought again and decided to lay the challenge in front of them.  I was surprised at how my students read more than they had in years.”  Berryhill does not tie a grade to kids’ reading, but she tries to “get the right book in the hands of the right kid.”  If that happens, she says, kids will read eagerly.