Amanda Louie, librarian at Holy Cross School in North Portland, reads to preschoolers. Holy Cross student readers topped the state in the 2015 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.
Amanda Louie, librarian at Holy Cross School in North Portland, reads to preschoolers. Holy Cross student readers topped the state in the 2015 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge.
On the cozy library rug at Holy Cross School in North Portland,  preschoolers do all they can to stay still and quiet. But the pint-sized students are vibrating with excitement. Story time is about to begin.

Amanda Louie, the school librarian, also thrilled, cracks open a copy of “Click Clack Moo,” Doreen Cronin’s picture book about cows that find a typewriter and begin making demands of the farmer.   

The preschoolers can hardly wait for what is coming on each page and point out implications. For example, when the cows type that they will withhold milk, one girl observes: “No cheese today.”  

The zealous readers at Holy Cross read more than 398,185 minutes this summer, earning the title as the number one Oregon school in the 2015 Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge. For the third year in a row, Holy Cross will be listed in the 2016 Scholastic Book of World Records and will receive a plaque.

The program aims to avoid learning losses that hit when school is not in session.
Holy Cross also earned honors from the local library for being the neighborhood school with the most students in a summer reading program.

The motto at Holy Cross is “Readers are Leaders!”

Louie, a classroom teacher for 17 years, always loved the library and discussing books with students. She knows that adults who love reading pass that along to children; she’s a third generation teacher and the daughter of two enthused readers.

It was not always easy for Louie; she got special tutoring as a girl. That makes reading all the more sweet for her. Now, she spreads the joy to others, including her own two young children.   

The reading culture at Holy Cross is firmly in place and builds on itself. Librarians in past years, including Nancy Jordan, got the excitement going and Louie has advanced it.

“It’s just about getting books in the students’ hands,” she says. “New authors, new genres, new levels.” Then comes something at which Louie is a natural — chatting with kids about what they’re reading.  

Graphic novels have helped youth reading surge, Louie explains. She also recommends well-written books about adventure, like C.S. Lewis, the Percy Jackson series, The Boxcar Children and E.B. White’s work.

“Reading helps creativity and imagination,” Louie says. “It helps children learn information and explore things they never knew about and get them to places they never knew about.”

Holy Cross has a wide range of students. Some of their parents did not finish high school; other parents are professors, doctors and lawyers. There are many tongues spoken at the school.

But books are a language everyone embraces.