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 Rowena Verdin, a librarian at Milby High School.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth and I started The Dog Stars by Peter Heller.

Insurgent is actually the second book in the series by Veronica Roth. The first book, Divergent, was in last year’s Name That Book list. I enjoyed the first book; it’s like Hunger Games. Plus, I really like dystopian novels, so I just had to read the second book. The third book is supposed to come out in October.

Dog Stars is on the Name That Book (NTB) list.

What attracted you to those selections?

I am the sponsor/coach for NTB, so naturally I try to read as many NTB books as I can in the summer. Our kids are very serious about preparing for competition, so we start prep work as soon as we get our books. That’s usually in June. As a matter of fact, we have our next meeting July 23. We exchange books and get our quotes ready. Milby has gone to the finals and has placed third for the past two years.

Can I ask what’s on your adult roster?

The books in my adult reading list are mostly books from the high school NTB list. I love Young Adult books, which works out because I am a high school librarian. Our students ask me for book recommendations all the time. I like being able to suggest a book and tell the student to come back so we can discuss it.

The books on my nightstand right now are Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, Fat Vampire by Adam Rex, and The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker. All are waiting to be read.

There are books strewn all over our house … Mindset by Carol Dweck and America Again by Stephen Colbert—started, but unfinished.

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

Before the school year ended, we made posters featuring teachers posing with their favorite books and included quotes from the books. We posted these around the library and also on our school TV monitors. We made announcements encouraging students to read over the summer.

The plan is when they come back from the summer break, they’ll complete a survey and share what they’ve read. If they have overdue books, their fines will be forgiven if they show a receipt from the public library. We will also make a poster showcasing the kids who are “Millionaires.”

What’s one thing parents can do this summer to encourage their kids to read?

Be reading models. You can’t expect kids to read if they don’t see you reading. Kids need to see that their parents read for pleasure. They need to see that their parents enjoy reading and it is a part of their daily routine. If you are reading the newspaper (print or online), talk to your kids about what you’re reading and invite them to discuss it. Parents should also provide reading materials for kids. Leave magazines, books, and comics conspicuously around the house. Hopefully, kids will pick them up and read.

More importantly, let kids decide what they want to read. Once they are hooked, you can expose them to other types of literature. Parents can also give their kids gift cards to bookstores as presents so they have the opportunity and ability to buy their own books.

Sometimes kids lose interest—especially teenagers. When that happens, just make sure there are enough reading materials at home. Sometimes, I lose interest in a book I am reading, too. When that happens, I just pick up another. That’s why I have books all over the house.