Cabot elementary school receives Summer Reading Challenge award

By Lisa Burnett Published November 21, 2013 at 12:00 a.m.
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PHOTO BY: Nick Hillemann

Eastside Elementary School star readers are, from the left, Gracie Hock, third grade; Gavin Hock and Asher Acosta, kindergarten; and Will Sadler and Emma Durham, first grade. Star readers have read books every night since school started.

CABOT — Students at Eastside Elementary School in Cabot spent more than 100,000 minutes reading books outside of class this summer and were recognized for their achievement in a big way.

This is all thanks to a larger focus on reading outside of the classroom by the teachers and librarians at the Cabot elementary school.

Pam Sowell, media specialist for Eastside Elementary, said the school challenged its students to read as many minutes as they could during the summer. The students, who range from kindergartners to fourth-graders, did just that.

They read a total of 107,757 minutes and received the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge award and logged the most reading minutes of the competing schools in the state. Arkansas first lady Ginger Beebe, along with Melissa Freeman, a Scholastic representative, presented the school with the award on Friday.

Sowell said encouraging the students in her school to read has provided a way for families to bond over books.

“It lets students know that reading is important to their parents. They can talk about the different things that happened during the day [before or after they read],” Sowell said.

Kim Griffin, the kindergarten and first-grade reading-intervention teacher, said the program has promoted the importance of literacy.

“We’ve gotten really positive feedback,” she said. “It also helps that the district has the reading bus that goes around to the different neighborhoods in the summer.”

Griffin said the school district went above and beyond to make sure the students had accessibility to books while school was out during the summer.

“The district does so many things to promote literacy,” Griffin said. “[We sent books to] kids who were reading below their grade level four times over the summer.”

In addition to the reading bus and books in the mail, Cabot School District elementary schools opened their libraries at least one day a week during the summer, Griffin said.

“We put so many things in place so kids didn’t have an excuse. Everyone had to read something over the summer,” she said.

Some of the libraries were open in the afternoons and some at night, Griffin said.

Stressing literacy has gotten the children at Eastside Elementary School excited about reading.

“We’ve made [reading] a No. 1 priority,” she said. “Parents have said, ‘It’s nice to have our kids ask to read.’”

Griffin said that when children received books in the mail over the summer, they were ecstatic about them.

“We made sure we put books in their hands,” she said. “Literacy is that important to us.”

After the ceremony on Friday, Beebe read to the students at Eastside Elementary School.

Sowell said that along with being recognized for its students reading the most minutes in the state, the school will also get its name in the Scholastic World Record book of 2014.

Staff writer Lisa Burnett can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or

Online News Editor Lisa Burnett can be reached at

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