Reading is a big deal at North Bend Elementary, where youngsters are racking up huge numbers in reading every day. Millions is no exaggeration, either; 14 students have read more than a million words in the school’s Accelerated Reader program since it was implemented Sept. 23, and one has read more than 3.6 million words.
Tanner Swanson, a third grader, leads the field with 3,659,000 words, and counting. He’s a marvel to teacher Chrissy McCloskey, who administers the program, and an inspiration to other students.
“We are trying to build readers and we want to inspire a little awe in them,” says McCloskey, “and tracking words read does just that.” When she tells her second graders that Swanson has read more than 3,000,000 words, she said, “their eyes get wide and they say ‘Whoa!!!’ That is the reaction we want.”
Also achieving the million-word milestone are, in grades 2 through 5: Morgan Leemaster, 2,750,431 words; Jory Morrison, 1,752,396; Alec Lawrence, 1,539,581; Sydney Yocum, 1,402,278; Zachary Long, 1,396,495; David Baerman, 1,283,542; Luke Landreneau, 1,220,804; Preston Taylor, 1,079,254; Nevada Simpson, 1,051,926; Samantha Gilden, 1,042,443; Dallas Daley, 1,016,707; Sophia Craft, 1,011,522; and Natalie Null, 1,008,570 words.
The word counts come from the Accelerated Reader program, which has rated nearly a million books by reading level, and awards students points for reading the books and taking online quizzes on their reading comprehension.
“This program is not only motivating to kids but it allows us instant feedback on their comprehension ability as well as a great way to track reading,” McCloskey said.
In books, 3.6 million words (averaging 25,000 words per book for elementary readers) makes an impressive stack of nearly 150, but the word count has the greatest effect.
“A million is a big deal to this age group,” McCloskey said, and has “…a much bigger impact to them than saying that a child read, say 35 books. If we were to say that, the little ones might be picturing the books they read and not understanding that those 35 books were hundreds of pages each.”