Spotlight on Summer Reading: Scroggins ES Librarian JoAnne Reed

This is the second in a series of interviews highlighting what HISD students are reading.

July 05, 2011

Christian Bartos, a fourth-grade student at Scroggins Elementary School remembers reading his first chapter book, Iggy the Iguana, by Melissa Williams. The author visited Scroggins, and as soon as Christian got the book, he couldn’t put it down. “It was funny,” Christian says. He would read at school, read in the car, and read at home, and that is exactly what Scroggins Librarian JoAnne Reed wants for her students. “Lots of times, I will take a class and read just part of the book that stops at a cliffhanger, and I will say, ‘Sorry, you have to finish it yourself,’’ Reed says. “When you have them hooked, they want to read.”

The shelves in the school library are stacked with popular titles, including those that are part of some well-known series. “My favorite book is the first one (in a series) because that is the one that actually gets you into reading the rest of them,” fifth-grade student Ricardo Hernandez explains. “I like it because it is fun, and when you learn that there are more of them, you just want to keep reading.”

Here are some excerpts from our interview with Librarian JoAnne Reed:

What are the students reading this summer?

The most popular book series this year was Diary of a Wimpy Kid, by Jeff Kinney. The boys, girls, children in all grades like that book. It’s very funny. Unsophisticated humor, I would say. The most popular books are funny or scary. Other popular titles by grade include:

Prekindergarten, Kindergarten, and First Grade:

Students like the Elephant & Piggie series, by Mo Willems. They are short, easy, and very funny. The author also has a website with online games appropriate for these young children.

Third grade and older:

The American Chillers series is popular.

Upper Elementary and Middle School:

The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan has sparked a huge interest in mythology. The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz is also hugely popular. I can’t keep these books on the shelves, even though we have several of each.

Additional favorites:

Students also like Junie B. Jones, Franny K. Stein, Amelia’s Notebooks, Harry Potter, and Stormbreaker.

What can parents do to encourage their children to read more?

Read aloud. If they read aloud, then that child is going to like that time and is going to associate that time with a nice feeling. Parents can also take their children to the library and find a book that they like. There is something for everybody.

You mentioned that your own children like to read and they also enjoy listening to audio books. Do you think audio books can be used to help children develop their reading skills?

The teachers here at Scroggins use the audio books that have a class set. The students have the book in front of them and read along while listening to the book. The books are read by professional readers who read with such feeling. Students can read (higher level) books if they are looking at the words and listening to the recording. It can also help if the student’s parents do not speak English.

Do you have any other advice to share?

If the kids don’t read in the summer, they slide backwards. If they do read in the summer, not only do they not slide backwards, they can make gains. It makes me really happy when I see all the kids reading in the summer.