Shimin Zhang
A sign outside the high school library encourages students to read.

Head librarian Joanne Melinson recently started promoting the idea of reading 10 minutes a day. The promotion started in an email sent out to high school students saying that a good New Year’s resolution is to read more. Friday, March 2, is Read Across America Day, featuring an all-high-school read from 2:30-2:45.

 

Q: Why did you start promoting 10 minutes of reading a day?

A: I was thinking of a New Year’s resolution, and I decided I wanted to read more. I (then) started reading all these things about the benefits of reading. Then I thought, “Well, I don’t want my resolution to just benefit me. I like to help other people too.”

The more I thought about it, the more I started thinking, “Wait a minute, Country Day kids have always been readers, and I’m noticing that they’re not as much (anymore).”

I know a lot of it has to do with society (and) the rise of being able to be on your phone or device all the time. I know that it’s from that, but it means that our current students are not getting the same benefits that our alumni have. And I thought that’s an area where I could help more people.

 

Q: Why 10 minutes?

A: The reason (for) 10 minutes is because studies recommend at least 20 minutes, but I figured a lot of (students) are already reading (bits and pieces), and if you could just add another 10 minutes onto that, you’re going to be golden.

There was also a Huffington Post article we came across that said six minutes is good; (if so) then so is 10 (minutes).

That’s how we came up with 10 – 10 seems more doable. If you have to set 20 minutes aside, you really do have to put that aside. But (with) 10 minutes, you might just be able to find (time) at the end of class when you’re finishing your homework.

 

Q: Where do you want this reading initiative to go?

A: I want reading levels to go up. It’s a very simple goal, but I think it has very far-reaching benefits because I think your life is enriched so much when you read.

 

Q; What have you done to promote it?

A: We started out (with) offering to do the reading for 10 minutes between 1:45  and 1:55 thinking that people who were free during elective might have the last 10 minutes that they’d use for it.

Then around the same time we put that survey out that (students) did in their English classes. The survey had questions about whether or not students are taking the challenge and if they have any recommendations.

 

Q: Do you have any results from the student survey?

A: As the results were coming back, we discovered that while there are a lot of people who are taking the challenge, there were only a couple who were reading during that time period.

Right now we’ve gotten 90 percent of the surveys in, and out of the whole high school, there are only 13 kids who say they don’t like reading. A lot of times we have found that people who say they don’t like reading haven’t been given the right book yet.

On the other hand, a lot of the kids who want to read more want more recommendations. So we’re going to start doing more of that.

The other thing that came out of the surveys was (that) a lot of people had some ideas on how we could help them.

Overall, in grades nine to 11, 62 percent of students are participating in the challenge. In the senior class, a little over 46 percent are participating. That includes kids who are doing it every day and kids who are doing it some days.

 

Q: How will you give students more book recommendations?

A: We are planning a newsletter that will be distributed via email because a lot of students asked for that. It was a student idea that came up in the survey.

Another thing we do is always have books on display. An interesting thing that came up in the survey is that people know we have the books right outside my office for the middle school, but they don’t know the books against the window to the high school quad area are high school recommendations.

 

Q: Have you thought about expanding the promotion to the middle school?

A: We haven’t brought the 10 minutes a day (initiative) to them because I think they do a lot of reading (already.)

—By Spencer Scott 

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