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Bath, ME (October 25, 2021) - Fisher Mitchell School has taken its successful 40 Book Challenge program and expanded it across all grades. Created by Texas teacher and author Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer and Reading in the Wild, the 40 Book Challenge invites students to read 40 books across different genres during the school year.
“In the past we have done things like the Blizzard of Books where we have a month-long focus on independent reading,” said Principal Ross Berkowitz. “While it was a lot of fun and the kids enjoy it, it was a short burst of schoolwide excitement around books. The 40 Book Challenge allows the whole school to focus on reading all year long.”
Third grade teacher Nicole Levesque worked with librarian Meg Barker, literacy teacher Monica Blatt, and third grade teacher Catherine Walsh over the summer to adapt the program to suit all students at FMS. Fourth and fifth grade students are challenged to reach 40 books and third grade students are challenged to read 30.
“This program is a personal challenge; not a competition,” Levesque said. “There is no consequence for not completing the challenge.”
Levesque said that she talks about reading constantly with her students: discussing authors, genres, and styles of writing. When a student reaches a reading milestone, she takes a photo of them with their favorite book and posts it above the class’s reading area. The books they have read are recorded in personal journals; larger books can count twice.
Levesque said that the idea of expanding the program came from Barker, who noticed how engaged students were with the library when they were participating in the Challenge in previous years. By expanding the program, they hope other students will come to enjoy a greater focus on reading.
“The 40 Book Challenge is about fostering a love of reading by getting students to explore all kinds of different books they might not have otherwise read,” Levesque said. “I think that’s why our students enjoy it so much.”