Spotlight on Summer Reading: Key MS Librarian Jerome Hurt

This is a first in a series of interviews highlighting what HISD students are reading this summer.

June 20, 2011

Key Middle School Librarian Jerome Hurt encourages students to read by helping them find books that interest them. In this short interview, he shares some of his favorite titles, as well as the names of books that his students can’t put down.

What are your students reading this summer?

Mr. Hurt: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief has been trending a lot. There are five books in that series, and they are in high demand. With guys, there is also always an interest in sports books. You can never have enough books about sports. A lot of our students are really into their hometown teams, so we have a lot of books about the Rockets and the Texans.

The Millionaire Club Summer Reading Program is encouraging students to read five or more books this summer. What is your advice for students who don’t know where to start?

People usually read what they are interested in, and sometimes students have not made reading a habit because they haven’t been given books that interest them. We spent about $12,000 purchasing new books at Key. We had focus groups and asked the students about what they want to read and what interests them. We make sure that we have books the kids like and that has brought a new crowd of students into the library to read.

What are you reading right now?

I am currently reading four books at the same time. In my truck, I have the book, Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo. It is the first book of the series. At home, I’m reading The Red Pyramid, and at work, I am re-reading The Giver, because we are going to be reading that with our sixth-graders next year. I read a whole lot.

What do you enjoy most about reading?

I love reading because I can phase out where I am. Anything that is stressing me out, or worrying me, I can totally forget about for a while when I am into a book. It is my release, my stress relief. When I get home from work, I just open a book and read.

How much time do you spending reading?

I read probably about two to three hours a day.

What would you say to encourage students to read more?

If they found a book that they liked, then two hours would go by in no time.

What are some of the other books that you recommend to your students?

I have been a staunch fan of Harry Potter since the books first came out. I also recommend Hunger Games. That is another book that we are going to be reading next year. And I would recommend Mi Barrio, which is a graphic novel. It’s a high-interest book that is good for students who are reading below grade level. The key is really about finding out what the students want to read and what interests them.

Do you have any other advice to share?

Your brain is a muscle, and just like your pectorals are muscles, your legs are muscles, and your biceps are muscles, they have to be worked out. You can’t take your brain out of your head and make it do push-ups. The only way to do that is by reading.