Reading Challenge success!

By Anna Jauhola
All 50 of Kittson Central’s fourth, fifth and sixth graders finished the annual Reading Challenge this fall. Their reward for completing the challenge was a visit to Northern Air Family Fun Center in Grand Forks. The group hopped on two buses the morning of Thursday, Dec. 19. They had full access for two hours to the trampolines, laser tag and virtual reality.
Elementary Librarian Jennifer Ristad said she began the challenge in 2016 to encourage students to read.
“We, as a staff, also want to stretch them and spur them to read books that they might not pick up otherwise,” Ristad said. “I love when I see a student fall in love with ‘Where the Red Fern Grows,’ ‘Little House on the Prairie’ or ‘Beezus and Ramona’ for the first time.”
Ristad sets 10 categories in the challenge each year and encourages the students to read one book from at least six of the categories. Students are not required to complete the challenge but are rewarded if they finish at least six books and successfully complete the accompanying Accelerated Reader tests.
The categories this year were:
• A book considered  to be a classic or an award winner;
• A book about someone different than you (race, gender, geography);
• A book your teacher recommends;
• A new book in the library (at school or the public library);
• A nonfiction book (can include a biography or an autobiography);
• A book with more than 250 pages;
• A book in a genre you don’t normally read (adventure, fantasy, history, mystery, realistic, sci-fi);
• A book by a favorite author;
• A book by an author whose last name starts with the same letter as yours; and
• A book set in the Midwest.
The fourth, fifth and sixth graders rose to the challenge this year as all 50 of them read books in at least six of the categories and completed the AR tests.
“Some students embrace the challenge whole-heartedly,” Ristad said. “I had three students who came close to tackling all 10 categories. I had four students who read all 10 categories.”
And one student read all 10 categories twice.
All students who came close or read all 10 categories are in the fourth-grade class.
Kamden Gullickson read nine books in the challenge while Asher Olsonawski and Briggs Younggren each read eight. Parker Olsonawski, Lucas Sobolik, Christian Warren and Jacob Wermers completed all 10 categories. Wesley Sugden read 20 books throughout the challenge, two in each category.
“They all happen to be fourth graders and they cheer one another on,” Ristad said.
She added her appreciation for the teachers who work hard to encourage the students to participate in the challenge, as well as the administration and staff for ensuring their ability to go to Northern Air.

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