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Teachers share love of reading by building classroom libraries

Students at the Ninth Grade Academy are falling in love with reading after English teachers and administrators teamed up to create libraries in the classrooms. The students get to read for 10 minutes each day in their English classes and are able to request books which teachers purchase personally, through grants and through donorschoose.org. NGA teachers Leah Jordan and Jennifer Adams have been building their classroom libraries since the start of the year. ’We started school here this year with no main library, and we felt like it was our job to make sure our students had books to choose from,’ said teacher Jennifer Adams. ‘We’re trying to put an emphasis on reading because we know it will help them improve in all areas of their education. Several students came to me and said this is the first time they have ever chosen to read an entire book on their own. We are trying to ignite that passion for reading. Our libraries have really grown and they are filled with books that get our students excited about reading.’ The teachers had around 100 books in their classrooms to start the school year and now have around 3,000 books that they’ve acquired, often at the request of their students. There are many different series available and students who had never read for pleasure before have now read multiple authors and many books since the start of the school year. ’We just couldn’t reach the different needs and interests of 150 students with only 100 different books,’ said teacher Leah Jordan. ‘We are seeing tangible and intangible results from the reading libraries. One of my students said that in just six months of reading for 10 minutes a day in class, she’s seen her lexile increase more than 100 points. I teach all regular and special education inclusion classes. Students, who are disadvantaged and are often behind grade level, lack tolerance for other cultures because they have never been exposed to other cultures. I believe they will access to other cultures through books, and I believe that if they read, their writing will also improve.’ Jordan said on the first day of school, she asked her students how many of them had books in their homes. Many said they have no books at all in their homes. Few had more than 10 books in their homes, and those were some of the highest achieving students. ’So I began a journey to provide my students from all backgrounds with access to books that interested them in an effort to help them develop their reading and writing skills,’ she said. ‘When we began this initiative, many of them were just staring at the words and not actually reading. Now, however, they are devouring the books faster than I can get them, which is amazing! My students are begging for new books by their favorite authors.’ Both teachers thanked administrators – especially NGA principal Sheryl Watts and Dawn Lanca-Potter – for their support in building the libraries. ’The kids absolutely love it,’ said principal Watts. ‘High school students don’t always like to read but this program has really helped them enjoy reading.’ To support the reading libraries at the Ninth Grade Academy, go to donorschoose.org and type in Zebulon, GA and then find local classrooms to support.

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