How do you get kids to keep reading in the summer? Barrington 220 teachers Judi Musschoot, Christine Evans and Kathy Hempel, hatched an idea to host an Internet Cafe at in Carpentersville.
On Monday afternoons, the teachers meet with students who will attend in the fall or are currently attending Station. Their goal? To keep kids reading, encourage them to investigate what they read, and get them excited about learning. The theme they chose was guaranteed to generate student interest: Creepy Chicago, a book written by Ursala Bielski. They are reading short stories about haunted Chicago and then they take time to learn more on the Internet and delve deeper into the urban legends.
Each week, students take home books to read and then discuss what they’ve read the next week. The program is based on research completed by Dr. Richard Allington, past-president of the International Reading Association. The research found one of the most important things parents and teachers can do for students is to make sure they have books in their hands and homes to read during the summer.
At last week’s cafe, students started talking about legends they knew about. This led to a discussion about the chupacabra, a goat sucker legend from Mexico. Kathy Hempel, the library teacher at Station, knew Roland Smith, award-winning young adult author, was working on a book for his Cryptid Hunter series. The book, coming out next year, revolves around the chupacabra legend. When Hempel contacted Mr. Smith about skyping with the kids to discuss his research, he heartily agreed.
“While we're goofing off during the summer, Kathy is getting kids to read,” said Smith. “We may forget what we did over the summer, but the kids she's working with will never forget what she's done for them. I had a fabulous time talking to her book group.”
The weekly reading group will end the summer with a field trip into Chicago to go on the Haunted Chicago tour and see the places they’ve been reading about all summer.
Submitted by Barrington 220 teacher Kathy Hempel