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When it comes to literacy efforts in Bellefonte, it takes a community

PHOTO COURTESY BASD Students involved in the Bellefonte Area Middle School’s Summer Book Club got to meet author Dana Alison Levy via Skype.

BELLEFONTE –This summer, 12 students were part of a Bellefonte Area Middle School book club spearheaded by school board member Donna Smith and secondary literacy coach Jackie Wynkoop to help foster a love of reading among students so it becomes a lifelong habit. Some teachers also read books along with the students.

Through the BAMS Summer Book Club, students read a variety of books provided by Bellefonte Area School District including “It Wasn’t Me,” by Dana Alison Levy who was able to Skype with students the night of Aug. 6 at the Centre County Library. Students were able to ask the author questions about the book, her writing process and more. Perhaps the most interesting thing to students was that “the author just seemed like a regular person and very approachable.” She was even curious to learn about the other books students have read during the summer.

“Dana was absolutely wonderful and offered really great insight to our students,” Wynkoop said. “All in all, the students said that they really enjoyed talking with her and loved meeting up for the book chat.”

The BAMS Summer Book Club was promoted at the end of last school year to all students. Students who were interested in joining, shared suggestions and narrowed down the list to about 20 recommended books. It was then decided that “It Wasn’t Me” would be the common book all students in the book club read.

Described in reviews as a “sharp, humorous and heartfelt novel,” “It Wasn’t Me” follows the unique bonding of students who band together during summer break while working through the justice circle to get to the bottom of vandalized student photographs for a project.

Other books on the BAMS Summer Book Club list were also made available just after the end of school in June for students to checkout and read. Smith and Wynkoop also set up a FlipGrid account where students created and posted their thoughts about the books they read. By early August, 58 videos were submitted.

“The amount of time a child spends reading is the No. 1 predictor of reading achievement,” Wynkoop said. “Students need to be reading every day. It’s absolutely critical to their success in life. Fostering and sustaining a love of reading in our students now will ensure the same for generations to come.”

(Editor’s note: Content courtesy Bellefonte Area School District.)

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