NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — You may have heard of the 'summer slide'. The learning setback that happens when kids get out of school for the summer. One third grade class is getting ahead of the slide and breaking school records.
"Honestly, it’s a teacher’s dream to have kids come in and want to read," said Marie Stopka, third grade teacher at Holy Ghost Lutheran School in Niagara Falls.
In between lessons, you’ll always find these students with a book in their hands. That's because a few years back, Stopka started a reading challenge.
"It started as a bulletin board—look at all the books we’ve read and I was just looking for a new bulletin board to do something interactive for the kids. These guys have obviously taken it way past a bulletin board this year," said Stopka.
With each book completed by a student, Stopka will print out the cover and stick it on the bulletin board. She quickly ran out of space and had to start a clothesline along the ceiling.
"They reach one goal and they set another goal and another goal and they just keep going with it," said Stopka.
The initial goal was to beat the first class's record of 307 books, which they did with ease.
"When we hit like 300 something we were all dancing around the room," said 9-year-old Madeline Wikander.
Today, they're at 568. And it doesn’t stop there. With 11 days of school left, they hit their goal of 600 books.
When they’re done with a book, they have to write a summary and each one goes in this binder, which is now pretty heavy.
"They’re asking their parents to buy them books, they’re asking to go to the library it’s fantastic," said Stopka.
So what’s the secret? How do you get 8 and 9-year-olds to read this many books?
"What I found that has motivated these guys is finding what they like—when you and that, it hooks them," said Stopka.
Kids in the class who like sports read books about the World Series. Kids who like adventure read The Magic Treehouse. Kids who like history read non-fiction, biographies. Kids who like gaming read books about Nintendo.
“I’m just super proud of them, could not be prouder...next year’s class has their work cut out for them! But they can do it," said Stopka.
If you’re looking to get your child involved in a reading challenge--Erie county’s libraries have a program called Tails and Tales that runs through August 13. Click here for more info.
And Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s reading challenge runs through August 20. Click here for more info.