When Ashburn Elementary librarian Melissa Larson says students at her school like to read, she means it.
In fact, they like to read so much, the number of books the students have devoured in recent years has won them a top spot in the worldwide Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.
It’s that voracious love of the written word that prompted the Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip RV to bring its program to Ashburn Elementary. On Tuesday evening, the RV pulled into the school parking lot to kick off a pop-up reading festival. Staff from Scholastic and the school set up rows of temporary bookshelves on the school lawn and lined them with some of the most beloved children’s books.
Ten-year-old Jannah picked up a book from the Whatever After series by Sarah Mlynowski. “I love reading,” the fourth-grader beamed. “Sometimes I’ll read underneath my covers in bed when I’m supposed to be asleep.”
That’s the enthusiasm Larson loves to see. For the past four years, Ashburn Elementary has read the most books of any Virginia school entered in the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. Last year, Larson challenged her students, “Let’s try to get in the top 20 in the world.” And they did. The school now ranks 18th for the most read books of all of the schools signed up for the competition.
“Reading has become a schoolwide culture now,” Larson said. “We do all this because we want to show kids that all reading counts, including parents reading to their children. It’s very important to have adult roles model who are reading for a child to realize that reading is essential to all of our lives.”
Richmond-based author David Landis was on hand at Tuesday’s festival to talk with young readers about his recently released book, Papercuttables. The book is part adventure, part paper craft. It allows readers to cut out characters that can be folded to stand on their own without glue or tape. Landis, who owns graphic design studio Landis Productions, said he wished he would have embraced his desire to create out-of-the-box art as a kid.
“I didn’t pay attention to these desires to create this type of art until I became an adult. So I feel a lot of the lessons I learn now can be applied to kids to create their own dreams,” he said. “When art is cut out and set up in this way and it’s placed in your environment, it feels more alive.”
From here, the Scholastic Summer Reading Road Trip RV will make stops all along the East Coast, including Baltimore, New Jersey, Connecticut and Massachusetts. Other Scholastic RVs are bringing similar reading festivals to schools throughout the West Coast, Midwest and Southwest. Learn more at summerroadtrip.scholastic.com.