NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Jefferson Elementary School students are on course to top a million minutes of reading this month in a readathon that has students logging the time they spend devouring books about Captain Underpants, a Bad Kitty, and a pigeon who really, really wants to drive a bus.
"Everybody's enthusiastic about it," said Jefferson PTA President Michelle Barragan.
Across the City School District of New Rochelle, elementary schools are boosting reading in a project that began with 10-minute Stop, Drop and Read activities on October 2. Jefferson is one of three schools that have taken on readathons this month in which students seek sponsors to donate based on how much time they spend reading. The George M. Davis Jr. and William B. Ward elementary schools are the others involved. The events are major fundraisers for the PTAs, which support enrichment programs.
At Jefferson, book sales help students build their home libraries, and the young readers are treated to visits by the Book Fairy, who is also sometimes known as third-grade teacher Vicky Vessecchia.
Third grader Mia Mendoza enjoys reading even when a readathon isn't on. This month, she's been reading 20 to 30 minutes a day.
"Sometimes when I read for a long time, it feels like I'm inside the book," she said during an after-school event where the Book Fairy visited to read "The Kissing Hand" and "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!"
"I've been reading a lot at night before I go to sleep," said Andrew Yanker, a second-grader who enjoys the Bad Kitty and Captain Underpants books. He was drawing Bad Kitty at a table where students used crayons to create depictions of their favorite characters.
First grader Darrius Washington likes to read Goosebumps books with his Dad, even though the material is a little frightening.
"I like it because it makes me scared," he said.
"The kids get excited by it," Assistant Principal Leann Bruno said of the readathon. "And it's given them goals to reach, too."