Awards Close Book on Reading Program

More than half the 325 students at Calabash Street School participated in the school's first Books and Beyond reading program, and 180 of them were honored Monday with awards.

The program encourages elementary school students to read at home--at least 300 pages--in addition to completing their schoolwork.

Mehdi Torabi, 7, read more books than anyone else. From October to May, he read 9,600 pages. That's a lot of books about Encyclopedia Brown and the Magical School Bus, two popular series that are among Mehdi's favorites.

Sheida Saadati, 8, said she was proud she graduated to reading "chapter books"--books too long to be read all at once. She read almost 5,000 pages.

Children documented their progress by filling out charts listing titles, time spent reading and the quantity read per week. Students advanced a level for every 300 pages read.

There were eight levels in all, and children who surpassed the 2,400-page goal received gold medals for the achievement.

Lori Dupuis, a second-grade teacher at the Woodland Hills school, said the program encourages children to get in the habit of reading for pleasure rather than because they were told to.

"Many of these children vastly improved their reading skills. Some kids didn't even speak English that well. Now we can't stop them from reading."

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