Nancy Jordan, left, celebrates reading contest win with Clifford the Dog, Holy Cross students and representatives from Scholastic Books.
Last summer, students from Holy Cross School read a stack of books that would even reach the dizzying heights of Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Clifford — in modest size — showed up at the North Portland School this fall to announce that it had won the prize for the most minutes read over the vacation in the state of Oregon. The total read and logged by computer into the Scholastic Books contest site added up to more than a quarter million.
Along with Clifford came a bouquet of flowers for Nancy Jordan, the school librarian. She gets kudos for fostering the reading culture.
"Nancy will give all credit to the students," says Julie Johnson, the principal. "I give credit to the students and Nancy. Her enthusiasm for reading is contagious and her support of our students is unrelenting."
Through the year, Jordan speaks regularly with students about the importance of reading and the benefits students will see in all parts of their lives. Many of the conversations are informal, spontaneous, personal and passionate. In the hallway, on the playground and outside of Mass, Jordan asks students what they are reading, why they like it and what they would like her to read to the class.
"Students see Nancy as more than just the librarian," Johnson says. "She has established relationships with them that go beyond the academic."
At an assembly, students from each class who read the most received a free book. The school's champ was eighth grader Sydney Caleen, who logged in 23,747 minutes, or 396 hours of reading.
The challenge from Scholastic Books began May 6. Computer classes began the day by logging in their minutes. By the time vacation came, they could do it independently. After the awards assembly this fall, students got ice cream bars, courtesy of Clifford and Scholastic.
"We all hope this recognition will be an incentive to the students when we begin the Summer Challenge in May 2014," Jordan says. "Our goal is to exceed this year's number of minutes, making sure every student participates."