Gov. Brian Sandoval declared Nevada Reading Week on Monday, but students and teachers have been preparing for the week’s festivities at the east Sparks school in the previous weeks. Each day at Lincoln Park Elementary uses a different theme designed to encourage students to dress up, explore different genres of books and keep their noses buried between the pages.
Library Assistant Robin Rash has worked to bring in a book fair throughout the week where students can browse various books and look for something that piques their interest. She said Reading Week has her excited to host students in her sanctuary and share the love of reading.
“The kids here may be at a lower level and some may be at an extremely high level, but everyone wants to read,” Rash said Tuesday morning inside the library. “The really exciting thing about reading week is being able to celebrate that, no matter what level you are at.”
Mystery guest readers, including many Washoe County School District administrators and board members, have already surprised students with a reading of popular and relevant books and many more will visit the school as the week continues. Students are participating in a bookmark-making contest during the week and they are able to purchase books at cheap prices from the Grassroots Books book fair.
“Our kids need to see how important reading is for their whole life, and school is where they get their fundamentals for reading,” Rash said. “Home is where they get support from their families, but here dedicating a whole week I think really shows them that it is important to us as well and it gets them excited about it.”
Rash works tirelessly to encourage students to read more and, more importantly in her mind, get excited about reading. In only her first year at Lincoln Park Elementary she has helped form three new book clubs, including fifth and sixth-grade clubs and a genre-exploring club open to grades four through six. Students are able to work through new genres each week and complete book reports to earn books and rewards from Rash.
Rash also hosts the Recess Read Aloud where she reads chapters of books, like the current title Matilda, to students. She also encourages students and parents to take advantage of her book-exchange box, which allows students to trade tired books from home for new ones to keep them engaged.
“I tell the kids all the time I wasn’t a good reader when I was a kid, but I love reading,” Rash said. “I used to volunteer at my county library in Fallon during summer programs and I loved it -- but I wasn’t a good reader. And I try to tell the kids that and that is not what it is about. It is about building your own strengths and taking it at your own pace, reading what you want to read and exploring things. And I think it is working.”
Rash said she is already looking ahead to next year’s Nevada Reading Week where she hopes to gain even more input than the event featured this year. She said teachers of the school were on board and offered support and ideas prior to the event-filled week, but she said the celebration is still missing something.
“I think more student interaction is going to be key,” she said. “I was lucky to have more teacher input and next year I think it is going to be more students. I think the community has helped us a lot also. Target has donated money for us to buy new books, Grassroots Books has been fantastic, the Rotary Club helps, and I think the more community supporters we get the better, because the kids are seeing that a lot of people care and want to help. It really does help a lot.”