World Class Readers
What is “World Class Readers?”
World Class Readers is a program that was established by Ms. Barbara Walters, currently a fourth grade teacher at CES. She got the idea for it several years ago after viewing best-selling CT author Wally Lamb on the Oprah Winfrey Show during a book discussion segment. She said, “Wally appeared on Oprah in December of ‘96. It was his appearance on her show that planted the seed of having a World Class Reader group at our school. I believed that if Oprah could inspire adults to read, then we could also get kids to read and participate in a book discussion.”
The last of four World Class Reader Book Discussion Groups were held on Wednesday, May 6, after school. Twenty-four students and 7 discussion facilitators participated. After meeting, having a book-related snack, and discussing the books they read, the groups converged in the library to share. It is always fun to hear about the books that the other groups have read and then add them to our “must read” lists, and this time’s presentations were no exception! All of the books sounded funny, suspenseful, and/or entertaining. Sometimes there are dramatizations or passages are read aloud, crafts, even a comedy act or two!
Among the books presented this last time were: Dead End and Norvelt with Mr. Burelle, Greenglass House with Miss Baker, Matilda with Mr. Swanson (student teacher), Hoot with Mrs. Dufresne, Fifth Grade Comedian with Miss Walters, Golden and Gray with Mrs. King, and White Fur Flying with Mrs. Dunnack.
How does it work?
About a month or so prior to each World Class Reader Discussion Group meeting, teachers assemble readers in grades 3-6 to “pitch” their book choices. Typed descriptions of the books are sent home with a sign up sheet. Students must indicate their top choice, as well as a 2nd and 3rd choice. This time it was very difficult to choose just one favorite, since all of the books sounded so good!
About a week after the signups are returned, students receive a book to borrow and read in preparation for the discussion. Then, students usually have between 3-5 weeks to read. They can record their reading in their Reading Logs.
Organizing the book presentations, group facilitators, signup sheets, organizing groups, and obtaining the books is a big job! After having done that for several years, the torch passed to Mr. Burelle, who is currently teaching sixth grade. He imagines he has been in charge of the program for about 10 years now.
Enthusiasm about reading is infectious! Last summer on vacation, I found myself at a bookstore, browsing books! It didn’t take long for me to choose all 4 of my books for World Class Readers.
Participation is free. Teachers volunteer their time, in support of our community of readers.
Watch for the next World Class Reader sign up sheet in the fall. I already know I will be offering Flora and Ulysees by Kate DiCamillo. It is a quick read that will not disappoint. It has very good examples of author’s craft throughout.
Keep reading! Remember to tell us about your favorite summer book(s). See you at summer’s end!