A special envelope arrived in the mail several weeks ago. Inside I was delighted to find 17 handwritten letters from 5th grade students in Auburn, WA. On top of the pile was a letter from their teacher, explaining the reason for their correspondence.
“After writing letters to Louis Sachar, my class started talking about the C. I. A. reading program and some asked if they could write to you. They wanted to tell you how much they enjoyed the program. These are letters they chose to write on their own time.”
As I poured over the letters, I felt my heart explode. These students had so much to share with me about how this reading program changed their life, made them better readers and instilled in them a LOVE of reading. What a blessing to me to be able to hear their words right when I was feeling overwhelmed.
I’d like to share some of their words, and summarize their key points about the Read Side by Side curriculum.
1. Students expressed that their love of reading increased as they experienced a reading program that stood out from the rest.
“This year I liked reading way more than previous years because I learned more and understood the books more.”
“Last year I hated reading, but your program makes it so fun to read!”
“The CIA program makes you want to read. Compared to previous years, I read a lot more now. THANK YOU!”
“I think this was my best year of reading!”
2. Students acknowledged that their comprehension of books increased as a result of the reading program.
“The CIA program is very helpful to me for understanding and comprehending chapter books.”
“I like how when we write in our notebooks it helps me understand what is going on in the book.”
“I like the author’s message because when you find evidence that supports it, it is really cool to think about it.”
“What I liked about the CIA program is it helped me read better and comprehend better. You made reading fun for me.”
3. Students expressed a growing interest in books, and a willingness to try new genres, titles, and authors.
“Half of the books we read as a class I would never read because of the cover. But they all turned out to be awesome. Don’t judge a book by its cover.”
“I would never have picked the book Maniac Magee, but the book was fun to read and I am glad it is in this program.”
“Before this program it was hard for me to finish a long chapter book. I think the size of the book was intimidating. Now I am reading a 553 page book!”
4. Students appreciated the opportunities for collaboration that are so naturally built into the two-part program (read-aloud & book clubs).
“When we do the read aloud, it makes me excited to read more.”
“When the teacher stops reading, everyone says, ‘One more chapter!’”
“My favorite part about the program is Book Club because it helps me a lot with my comprehension.”
“Last year we just had to read all by ourselves and we didn’t get as many details out of the books we read.
To sum it all up, one student writes,
“You both have made the reading world better.”
Not yet using the Read Side by Side Reading Program? Learn more about this engaging program at readsidebyside.com.
Written by Sarah Collinge
Founder and President