blue spacer

Wester Middle School Launches Reading Initiative (January, 2007)

On Friday, January 19th, 2007 students and staff at Wester Middle School in the Frisco Independent School District received a free copy of the book Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by new and award-winning author, Jordan Sonnenblick. For the next six weeks, students will participate in an innovative reading initiative modeled after the American Library Association’s program, One Book, One Community. According to organizers, the purpose of the initiative is to promote reading for pleasure and enjoyment – a focused effort to let students know that reading is fun.

To kick off the experience, students attended a Book Launch Party complete with cheerleaders, drum performances, and a pie eating contest. “We wanted students to have fun and get excited about reading this great novel”, Assistant Principal Angela Romney noted. In the spirit of fun, students will not be graded on the book, but will win prizes if they are “caught reading”. On February 2, 2007, the author, Jordan Sonnenblick, will host a teleconference with students at Wester Middle School to discuss the novel and allow students to ask questions. Shelby Bivins, Wester’s librarian, stated, “Jordan Sonnnenblick writes characters that middle school students can relate to because he is a middle school teacher. I think students will enjoy the book even more after discussing the novel directly with the author.” The novel, Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie, as well as his second novel, was placed on the Texas Lonestar Reading List which is an exceptional honor.

Students and teachers will read the novel during the Drop Everything and Read time that is provided once a week in English classes for silent reading. FISD Library Coordinator Leigh Ann Jones says that a concerted effort to create leisure readers is critical to the overall education of our young people. She cites research that strongly suggests that free reading is key to building vocabulary and spelling development, along with our comprehension and writing skills. Documents show that in eight out of 10 studies that tracked pupils in long-term leisure reading programs (such as the DEAR program) of 12 months or more, students who read recreationally outperformed their counterparts in classes that lacked leisure reading. “We want to do everything we can to build a community of readers.” Jones said.

Principal Kenny Chandler is looking forward to other activities that will take place at the school during the reading time. Students will make reflection quilts and participate in door decorating contests. These tangible activities will further demonstrate the power of reading and the fun it can produce, while making connections through all the learning, he said.

“Because the book features aspects of music, relationships and helping others, many groups should be able to extend the learning through real-world applications, such as efforts to raise money for cancer research,” he said. “This will be a great experience for us all.”

Funds to purchase the books were donated by the following local businesses: Atos Origin, Prosper Bank, Dickey’s BBQ in Frisco, Wilson’s Orthodontics, Park Place Design, Frisco Eye Associates, Embassy Suites, Morgan Hinges, and the Wester PTO and Band Booster Club.