Millionaire Club Spotlight: What Are You Reading This Summer?

HISD’s Millionaire Club is a literacy initiative designed to encourage students to read for pleasure during the summer months. Each week, we’ll catch up with one HISD librarian to find out what’s on his or her reading list. This week, we spoke with Pat Johnson, a librarian at Stevenson Middle School.

So, what are you reading right now?

I’m reading all the books from the “Name That Book” contest to get clues.

Wow. All 35 of them?

No, I’ve only read five so far, but I finished the questions on three last night. I used to try to read all of them twice. The first time, I would just read through them to become familiar with the stories and then the second time I would start thinking about clues and questions. But last year, I was still trying to finish up by November, so this year I’m just going through them once.

What’s on your adult roster?

I usually do a lot of mysteries, like Donna Leon, whose novels are set in Venice, but right now I’m focusing more on light reading, like Maeve Binchy and Nora Roberts. It’s a welcome contrast to the ones I really have to concentrate on for Name That Book.

What is your campus doing to encourage students to read over the summer?

We tell kids to visit the campus website and log their entries through the “Ticket to Reading Rewards” link as well, because kids who read a certain number of books can get prizes there through the NCAA finals that were here a few years ago. A few lucky ones will also get trophies in the fall.

We have a really strong Name That Book club, too, and sometimes it gets reluctant readers in there. I tell them, “Look, if you’ve only read one book, but you know that book really well and nobody else does, you might make the team.” One student who did that told me he never liked reading until this year.

Do you have any tips for parents?

Encourage your children, take them to the nearest public library, and let them pick out things that interest them, even if it’s not on their grade level. Try to be positive and encouraging. Don’t quiz them a lot. Also, read yourself. If parents read, their kids will read, too.

Also, consider starting with graphic novels. They are very popular with reluctant readers now, and they can act as a bridge to regular books later on. I had one student who would only read graphic novels—like James Patterson’s Angel/Maximum Ride series or The Lightning Thief—until the eighth grade. It’s all about letting the choice be theirs.