Fourth-grade student Emma Ellison had to have a talking to this year.
She wasn’t scolded for bad behavior – she was reprimanded for reading in class.
The PACT Charter School student would walk down the hallway with her nose in a book, disappear into her novel at lunch and sometimes sneak her favorite fiction out during class.
“We had to put some parameters on her reading,” Emma’s mother Amanda Ellison said. She’s allowed to read for pleasure on the bus, but not during the school day.
These limitations have not stopped Emma from reading more than 100 books outside of class this year, earning more than 720 Accelerated Reader points and shattering the PACT record for AR points accumulated in one year, which previously stood at 449.
Fourth-graders are required to earn nine AR points each quarter, 36 each year, according to Emma’s teacher, Jenelle Moehn.
Students receive points only for books they read outside of class. After finishing books, students take multiple choice tests about them on the computer, and if they pass, they receive however many points their particular book is worth.
Books are assigned points based on their difficulty and length. For example, Dr. Seuss books are typically worth half of an AR point, “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White is worth five AR points, “Harry Potter” books are worth 12-44 points, and Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” comes in at 118 points.
Emma enjoys series, particularly the “Warriors” series by Erin Hunter, several authors writing under one pseudonym. The books follow clans of feral cats on their adventures.
Emma is shooting for 1,000 AR points by the end of the year, though she knows it will be a stretch.
“We’re cheering her on,” Moehn said. “In one month she was able to get 300-some points, so it could happen.” Moehn will allow Emma to test through June, she said.
“I haven’t always been a big reader,” Emma said. Now, “I just love it so much. It builds up my imagination.”
Emma’s twin sister Sadie Ellison has also surpassed PACT’s previous reading record, accumulating more than 500 AR points this year.
Olivia Koester is at firstname.lastname@example.org