Finck: Tiger-Wolves Reading Challenge promotes good reading habits for all

Princeton Primary School Principal Greg Finck, left, and Milaca Elementary School Principal Steve Voshell, right, are surrounded by Milaca Elementary School kindergarten students of Rebecca Winkelman with the plaque presented to Milaca Elementary School for winning the Princeton-Milaca reading challenge. The plaque will hang in the Milaca Elementary School media center. (Photo: Jeff Hage)



Congratulations to Milaca elementary students for reading more minutes during the month of March than did Princeton students!
At the beginning of March, students took home calendars. Parents recorded the number of minutes their child read or was read to outside of the school day. At the end of the month, parents added up the total and sent the calendar back to the child’s teacher. Each district tallied their minutes and divided it by their student population.
The Princeton Tigers are disappointed by their loss, but not discouraged. They want to take the Wolves on again next February. Milaca Principal Steve Voshell says, “We are up for a rematch!”
The real winners of the challenge are all the kids, both Tigers and Wolves, who had fun reading and who increased their reading habits. The habit of reading, and the joy reading can bring, are lifetime rewards that no one can take away from us. Clearly these rewards were gained in both districts by the students who joined in the fun. Thanks to all the parents who took extra time to read to or with their children and to record the minutes.
We asked some Milaca first-graders about their favorite part of the Tiger-Wolf Reading Challenge. Brayden H. said, “I liked reading to my mom.” Grace M. said, “I liked that I got to read so much.” Ben N. replied, “I read with my family.” Karianna R. said, “My favorite part was reading to my family.” Makenna M. said, “I liked reading with my sister.” Third grader Lillia L. said, “I wanted to read extra minutes every night so we could win. My favorite part was I could read funny books and challenging books.”
Here’s what Princeton second-graders had to say: “I just found a book I really liked and kept on reading. That book was Dairy of a Wimpy Kid. My mom said we had to read every night” (B.O.). “I got to read 5 chapter books! I read one each week until the days were done. It was fun!” (H.F). “I really liked that my mom would let me read super late. But she let me read passed an hour because I wanted to” (T.N.) “My mom let me get some of her old books like Charlotte’s Web and other books on her bookshelf to read for the challenge!” (I.W.).
Mrs. Miller, Princeton second-grade teacher, said, “This Tigers vs. Wolves reading challenge has encouraged more student participation to read at home than any other challenge this year. The kids were excited to set new goals and talk with their classmates about what they were reading. One classroom conversation even consisted of strategies to squeeze in more time at home to get reading in.”
Gwen Anderson, Early Childhood Coordinator for Princeton, said, “The Early Childhood reading minutes were astounding. This tells us that even at a very young age, children see the value of reading and parents are at the core of raising good readers!”
Jenny Wihlm, who teaches in Milaca and lives in Princeton, said, “It was fun to see how excited students were from both schools. My students were rooting for Milaca and my daughter was excited to be reading for Princeton.”
MaryJo Vickers, Milaca Elementary Media Specialist, said, “The part that I enjoyed the most was hearing my students talk about how they were reading books with family members.”
Karen Donais of Princeton said, “Reading isn’t my son’s favorite subject, but once it was turned into a challenge, he changed his thinking and focused more on the competition. He didn’t want to lose, so he read over 1,000 minutes during March, which is significantly more than he usually reads at home.”
“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all of the miseries of life,” said S. Somerset Maugham. When we foster in our children and ourselves the habit of daily reading at home, we’re all winners!
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