Glendale Elementary students take on book-reading challenge


If pupils at Glendale Elementary School read 5,000 books by the end of February, the adult Readersaurus will come out of his cave.

And if the early results of the reading incentive program are any indication, the students will get to see Principal John Birus meander the hallways costumed as a giant dinosaur. In the past month, the 520 children at the school have read 1,700 books in anticipation of the sight.

A decorated paper cave doorway is next to his office door. A parent is making his costume.

"I'm all ready for this. If the kids are going to keep their part of the bargain, I'm game," Mr. Birus said. "I will try not to schedule any parent-teacher conferences that day."

"We feel it is important for kids to read more at home," said reading teacher Toni Sakalas, who added that she is trying to create hundreds of little Readersauruses.

"Research proves the more kids read, the more they will excel at school," she said. She chose the dinosaur theme because recent movies have focused on dinosaurs and because children seem to enjoy the prehistoric creatures.

Youngsters in prekindergarten through second grade are asked to read four books a month, or have an adult read to them. Pupils in grades three to five are to read a novel a month during the four-month program. The youngsters have to read more than the minimum to reach the magic number. Meanwhile, teachers and PTA members are organizing the celebration.

All children have received a Readersaurus bookmark and are looking forward to receiving such prizes as dinosaur drinking glasses and cookies. Teachers whose classes log the most books are candidates for a stenciled sweat shirt that says Teachersaurus.

Janet Wagner's third-graders say they want to win one of the sweat shirt prizes for her. "She's a real nice teacher," said Jacquie Day. So far Jacquie has read five books, and said each book is "an adventure."

Fifth-grader Ariell Johnson said she would be reading without the incentive program, and reads in the car, in bed, wherever she can. She has read one novel so far for the Readersaurus program.

"It had 57 chapters, so it took me a while," she said.

At least 80 percent of the children in each class are participating. Outside classroom doors, big charts show who's reading how many books. And dozens of slips of green paper are tacked to the hallway outside the principal's office, each bearing the name of a child, how many books read -- and the outline of a dinosaur.

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