Teachers immersing students in books this month with fun activities for I Love to Read Month

Published 5:41 pm Thursday, February 10, 2022

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By Alex Guerrero

February is I Love to Read Month for the elementary schools in the Albert Lea school district.

“We really try to highlight reading and promote reading as much as possible,” said John Mahal, principal at Hawthorne Elementary School. “We do a good job of that already, but we really try to make a special effort to do some different things throughout the month and have some fun and, again, really promote literacy.” 

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So in the spirit of the month, Mahal and his team have come up with different events on different days to keep students — and parents — engaged.

“[Monday] was ‘Enjoy a book,’ day,” he said. “[Tuesday was] book trivia. We have a ‘Drop Everything and Read’ time.”

There will also be a mystery reader, something he said the students at the school really enjoyed. During those events, different adults will read to the students over the public announcement system. Classes will then try to decipher who the reader was.

“It creates a lot of fun and interest from our students because they get a chance to hear people who maybe wouldn’t typically be in front of them reading,” he said.

Fridays are also dress-up days. Last week’s theme was “wear a shirt with a word on it,” and this Friday’s theme will be “wear red or pink.”

He also said individual classes and grades will have their own activities and prizes for students, but Mahal didn’t know what those activities/prizes would be.

But aside from the events and activities, what really makes February special for Mahal is highlighting and getting books into the hands of students.

“We know that the more students are reading and we get them proficient in their reading, by the time they finish up third grade we know they’ve basically got the building blocks to be successful as they move through the rest of their education and graduate high school,” he said. “They’re ready for life.”

Celebrating for the fourth time this year, Mahal said the most rewarding aspect for him during the month is seeing the spark in a student’s eyes and watching them develop an interest in reading. 

“[February] is a great opportunity for students to continue to learn, read and really have some fun with it all,” he said. “And I think that’s what we all want for our students to be able to do as they move forward.” 

Mahal wasn’t sure when the district started celebrating I Love to Read, but did say they were doing so before he became principal at Hawthorne over three years ago.

The Scholastic book fair will be open on Feb. 24 and 28 for families to purchase books.