The students in third-grade teacher Shelley Baumgartner’s class at Lindbergh Elementary School in Little Falls were given the app “Epic!” on their iPads. Little did Baumgartner know at the time that it would send the entire class soaring in their reading skills.
When Epic! sent out a mass email recently and invited grades K-5 across the United States to participate in its annual contest, the “Blizzard of Books Challenge,” Baumgartner’s class was game for it.
“It was a teacher’s dream. They encouraged each other to read more,” Baumgartner said.
All participating students were challenged to read as many books as they could in four days. The Epic! app offered the students over 20,000 books, so there was never a shortage of books to read.
“First day we read during reading class. then I told them that if they really wanted this, they would have to read at home, as well,” Baumgartner said.
During the four days the students read, Baumgartner discovered that a hunger for reading became evident in the students.
Student Eli Miller of Little Falls said his mom, Michele, had to take away the iPad from him to keep him from reading at night.
For the challenge, Miller read about 180 books, which he estimates took him about 100 hours to read.
“I wanted to read as soon as I got home from school. Reading helps you learn, so you are good in school,” Miller said.
Student Emmett Gainey of Little Falls read mostly chapterbooks that had about 200 pages each. During the challenge he read about 70 books. He likes reading about Charlie Brown’s Snoopy the most.
“Reading is fun and you can learn so many different things,” Gainey said.
Student Callie Notsch of Little Falls said she believes reading is good for the brain and that it helps to learn new things.
In the challenge, Notsch read 133 books for 19.7 hours.
“I mostly read picture books, because they were easier to get done. I like reading,” she said.
Both Notsch and her classmate Trinity Standage share the same favorite book: “Razzle Dazzle” by Danna Simpson. It is their favorite due to the fact it is about a unicorn. They both love unicorns.
“It’s my favorite because it involves a unicorn, a girl, which is me. I also have the book at home,” Standage said.
Standage read 141 books for 12.6 hours in the challenge. Most were picture books. She believes reading is important as it carries on to the next generation.
“You should read because you can memorize the words and know what they mean. Then, when you’re older and have kids, you can read to your kids and you can explain the words to them. You can be a good role model then,” Standage said.
This year, about 20,000 classrooms across the United States participated in the challenge and read 3.3 million books.
Baumgartner’s class finished in sixth place. The top 10 classes received a $100 gift card to hold a classroom pizza party. Each student also received a 6-month Epic! home subscription.
Classes who read a minimum of 50 books received special Epic! badges and certificates of achievement.
“The challenge motivated them to read more now. They love to read. Some of the kids are reading 268 words a minute. I’m so proud of my kids for their determination and work ethic,” Baumgartner said.