U.S. Jones students prepare for Reading Fair

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

It’s an unfortunate fact: not every child is gifted in the field of science. A long procession of failed potato batteries and sprout-less seeds in Dixie cups can attest to that. So, how do you hold a Science Fair that’s, well, fair to the students who prefer reading about volcanoes to building baking-soda-powered replicas?

Easy: you hold a Reading Fair, too.

“We’re trying to promote reading in a fun way,” says U.S. Jones Elementary reading coach Donna Rembert. Rembert is the coordinator of the Reading Fair, which will be available for viewing Thursday and Friday in the U.S. Jones gym. This marks the first time U.S. Jones has tried the idea.

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“We’re encouraging our students to think creatively,” Rembert says. “The judges will be looking for originality, clarity and thoroughness of the written material, overall quality, and whether the presentation sparks the judge’s interest in the book.”

If the presence of judges sounds strange, remember that they’ve always been at Science Fairs, and the Reading Fair will be no different. The format is the same: the students do work outside of class and present their research on a large display board intended to inform the viewer of their findings. Only in this case, the research is reading a book and the findings are the magical worlds the books take the reader to.

Rembert said each project will need to include “10 different criteria” of information for the viewer, including a plot summary, character description, and author information. Books chosen for the Fair have to be approved by the students’ teachers and must be on the student’s reading level. (Sorry kids, but no projects on “Moby Dick,” please.)

According to Rembert, books chosen cover a wide range of styles, themes, and eras, from the Maurice Sendak classic “Where the Wild Things Are” to more recent fare like the Junie B. Jones series or the ubiquitous Harry Potter.

“Some of the books are on the 8th or 9th-grade reading level,” said Rembert. “The oldest students we have are fifth-graders, but some of them are already reading on that level.”

And for them, surely, there are better ways to spend one’s time than wiring up another potato.