Who is A Radical Reader?
A radical reader can read in the middle of food fights, on a noisy school bus, in front of a blaring television or on the sidelines of a football game. They are able to become lost in the pages of a book and to mentally travel to unimaginable places. They are able to temporarily become someone else and at the same time discover things about themselves they never knew. A Radical Reader goes to bed with a book and wakes up anxious to see how a story ended. A radical reader is the story because after so much reading they are inspired to become radical enough to achieve and succeed no matter what the obstacles.
Radical Readers is a program created by the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) exclusively for middle school students to encourage them to be radical enough to forget about peer pressure and other distractions and to get hooked on the joy of reading. Since 2007, MSEA has given away laptops, $500 gift cards, video game systems, Nooks, Kindle Fires, and lots and lots of pizza–all to inspire middle school students to embrace the power of reading. It’s extreme and drastic and it’s radical!
This year, any middle school student in a Maryland public school can compete to win a Kindle Fire or Amazon gift card, by downloading a reading log and sending it in with a list of books that are read in the time period of March 1-31, 2015 (Read Across Maryland Month). Winners may receive a special visit at their school from hip-hop artist and actor Tray Chaney. See his video and hear his song, “Radical Readers” on readacrossmaryland.org.
Let’s get Radical about reading!!
Suggested Radical Readers Activities
The success of the Radical Readers program has been due to the competitive nature of students and of course..the great prizes offered. You can set up a radical readers program in your school that can last all year long or just in the month of March. The key is to get kids excited about reading. Here are a few suggestions:
** Pledge cards—Have an assembly or classroom activity leading up to March and pass out pledge cards to students. Have them recite the pledge in unison and keep the card throughout the period as a reminder and motivator. At the end, they may write total number of minutes read on the back of the card to mark the end of the successful journey. All participants should receive a recognition certificate/gift/token.
** Partner with a local library and set up a program where librarians come into the school and give “book talks” to get students interested about reading. This can be done to launch a program or every week while the program in active. (MSEA is in partnership with MSDE, the Maryland Library Association, and the Maryland Association of School Librarians) Present a challenge to participants to read at least 30 minutes every day and to keep a log of how many minutes are read. The student (s) with most minutes read will get a prize and school-wide recognition.
**Introduce Radical Readers into an after school program, where authors, poets, or community members come in and read/perform students and talk about the benefit of reading. Present a challenge to participants to read at least 30 minutes every day and to keep a log of how many minutes are read. The student (s) with most minutes read will get a prize and recognition.
** Plan a program to recognize Radical Readers. Invite local association president, a rep from MSEA, local superintendent, community leaders. etc. Create certificates for participants and have at least two prizes to give top Radical Readers. Invite the news media to cover. Invite Tray Chaney to perform his video. (subject to availability)
**Partner with a local radio station and engage a popular deejay that your students will recognize to talk about Radical Readers on the air and stir up the competition. Perhaps the radio will offer tickets to an upcoming concert, movie premier, etc.
Radical Readers is a program of MSEA, but as public school educators you can shape the program to fit your school and your students. The key component is reading at least 30 minutes a day, logging those minutes and having a pay off at the end of the time period with an event or recognition program. Be creative and let MSEA know what you are doing. We’ll promote your program as well as post pictures from your events on the readacrossmaryland.org. If you need assistance, contact Debra Garner at Dgarner@mseanea.org (443-433-3644) or Angela Booker (443-433-3683).