Getting excited about reading


There has been a buzz of excitement among students and their parents and teachers at Mapleton Public School over … a book.

The Board of Education in November launched a new communitywide program, Mapleton Reads, which focused on bringing people together through literature.

The district purchased 500 paperback copies of the popular young adult science-fiction book “Michael Vey, the Prisoner of Cell 25” by Richard Paul Evans.

The board used district funds and did receive a volume discount from the author.

Schools received 30 copies each of the book and there were copies available at the administration building for parents to read along.

The program did not end with just turning the last page in the book. Many classes participated in class projects tied-in with the story.

“Students have been immersed in some exciting projects across the district that have included everything from ceramic sculptures to iMovies,” said board member Karen Hoopes. “The participation in the program has been excellent, and response so positive that we plan to continue the program next year.”

Students in Alison Helfand’s seventh-grade class at York International read the book in March. Then she had the students concentrate on characterization — who the characters really were and how others saw that character.

“I had them pick one character to see who they related to the most,” she said.

The reading project flowed out of the English class into the art class. Students sculpted the character they most related to and the environment they imagined them to be in.

“The feedback I got from the students is they really enjoyed the book — I think they really enjoyed carrying that over to the visual sense,” Helfand said.

Global Leadership Academy teacher Mark Barlock said he was impressed with the book choice for the program. The main character in the book is an awkward teenager with a disability who discovers he has special powers.

“The literary merit is pretty rich, it has a good plot and dynamic characters that relate to our kids,” he said. “It’s neat to see students engrossed. I haven’t seen kids this excited since Harry Potter.”

He said he’s heard his seventh-grade students talk excitedly about the second and third book in the series and the possibility of a movie.

The book excited a younger crowd as well — district employee Lina Burmann said she and her husband took turns reading the book to their son who is in kindergarten.

“I’ve been looking for a book series to read with my son so he can learn the love of reading. After reading two chapters of `Michael Vey’ we were hooked.”

The board is planning on continuing Mapleton Reads next school year, but it has not decided if the next book will be the second book in the Vey series.


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