Assignment: Education-Libros

Every day after lunch kids at Hintgen Elementary School in La Crosse head out for recess. But this group of eight boys decided to give up their recess time to take part in a new program.

“I think it’d be fun,” said Devyn Schams, 3rd grade student.

But don’t be fooled by these video rockers. The gaming chairs are simply providing the boys a comfortable place to work on a much more important skill.

“We read books,” said Mitchell Mollway, 3rd grade student.

You heard him right… these boys are a part of the new Libros program.

“The libros program was an idea I came up with last summer,” said Peter Schmitz, Libros coordinator. “And it’s designed to have third grade boys get together, read some books, be a part of a book club and discuss them.”

Because trends across the nation show boys falling behind girls in reading at the elementary, middle and high school levels, this club is aimed at getting boys interested in reading by choosing books they would like to read.

“I’m trying to find some really high interest things,” said Schmitz, “things that they could really enjoy reading whether it has to do with sports or maybe some non-traditional things like skateboarding or paintball.”

But while boys traditionally enjoy reading non-fiction books, it’s very important for them to be able to comprehend a fiction story, as well.

“They need to be able to articulate what they have learned in a fiction book and the different story elements,” said Schmitz, “and be able to talk about characters and analyze them and what the plot is and demonstrate that they understand it by sharing what their thoughts and feeling are.”

So, Mr. Schmitz is using companion books which pairs a non-fiction book about a specific topic, like paintball, with a fiction story on that same topic.

“They can get a little background information, some knowledge, before going into the fiction story,” said Schmitz.

Which is teaching the boys that reading is about more than just learning the facts. It’s also about using your imagination.

“You can close your eyes and think it’s real,” said Schams.

“It’s a skill that you need every day and in every subject,” said Schmitz. “And if you are a proficient reader, someone who can read fluently, and understand what you’re reading you are going to excel in no matter what field you choose or what area of study that you’re in.”

Which is why a program like Libros is so important at a time when the reading skills of boys across the nation are falling behind.