A Love of Literature in SWR Schools

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Promoting a love of literature throughout the Shoreham-Wading River School District is a daily occurrence. Extending that interest beyond the standard school day is something that happens in all schools and especially at Albert Prodell Middle School and SWR High School.

Ann-Marie Kalin and Kristine Hanson, librarians at the respective schools, have shaped reading opportunities for students to help them embrace a lifelong love of literature.

According to Kalin, providing authentic book discussions in small settings, learning the art of conversation, and guiding students in discussing the plot, characters and summary of books helps to encourage even the most reluctant readers. Two programs that she oversees are BIG Read, a schoolwide initiative that started five years ago with R.J. Palacio’s “Wonder,” and Booktalk, with a history that dates back to the 1980s in the district and re-emerged at Prodell in 2011 under her leadership.

An enriching literacy experience that provides a variety of book titles that students can select from, Booktalk emulates adultlike books clubs, with adults taking part as leaders over a two-week period. Superintendent of Schools Gerard Poole and Director of Humanities Ethan Wivietsky have both led the program.

In the high school’s book club, students peruse titles, brainstorm ideas and use an online survey form to vote on the books they want to read. Their first book for discussion was E. Lockhart’s “We Were Liars,” a clever and addictive read that quickly became a favorite among the group.

Asked what inspired her to join the high school’s book club this year, sophomore Emily Mulcahy said that friends who were in it last year encouraged her to join.

“It really helped me to get back into reading for enjoyment on a regular basis,” she said.