What do you get when you cross “March Madness” with “March is Reading Month”?

Reading Madness.

That is the theme of reading month at St. Joseph Elementary, and the madness has everyone cracking a book and a smile.

Classes assemble to hear one of the two books competing in the St. Joseph Reading Madness.

“March is a pretty busy month,” St. Joseph Elementary School Principal Sara Myers said.

There are the usual book-themed out-of-dress-code days, guest readers, book challenges, and lots of unique classroom activities. This year, however, the whole school is celebrating the written word with a little friendly competition.

After all, what is March Madness without a bracket?

The St. Joseph Reading Madness book bracket hangs outside of Rachel Andersen’s third/forth split classroom. It functions like the NCAA College Basketball Bracket, but instead of teams, each staff member entered a favorite book.

The St. Joseph Reading Madness Bracket hangs outside Mrs. Andersen’s classroom.

“I wanted to do something different that would engage the whole school on a daily basis,” Ms. Andersen said. “Everyday there is a read-aloud time and the kids vote. The book that wins moves on, just like the basketball tournament.

Two books face off every day in front of every grade. On the last day of March, the championship round will be held and the winner crowned.

Classes assemble to hear one of the two books competing in the St. Joseph Reading Madness.

“I want mine to win, but it was up against a really good book,” Ms. Andersen said, who selected “The Wonky Donkey” by Craig Smith.

Meanwhile, there is another book battle taking place, but this time the students are the authors.

Alan St. Jean, the author of the “Aidan of Oren” series as well as the “Daydreams” and” Barnyard” collections, came to St. Joseph the week of March 11 to facilitate the Writing Olympics.

Author Alan St. Jean leads one of several class writing workshops.

“He talks about what it is like to be an author, the process of writing, and how he gets to the finished product of his books,” Mrs. Myers said. “Then, he runs writing workshops in each of the classrooms, and they work together to create a story.”

“[The workshop] was so fun,” Ms. Andersen said. “The students just had a riot with it. They worked all morning afterward on their pictures.”

Mrs. Carrier’s second-graders hard at work on their class book.

“I heard a lot of laughing coming from the library,” Mrs. Myers said.

Class stories competed in the Writing Olympics on March 14th. Natalie Mahoney’s first grade earned the gold medal in the kindergarten through second-grade division, while Angela Parshall’s fourth grade took gold medal in the third-grade through fifth-grade division.

A page from the story created by Barbie Carrier’s second-grade classroom.

The entire school will take a break from competing on March 20th, as they host Literacy Night. This family-centric event open to the public features unique reading-inspired activities in every classroom.

“We wanted to do something that would bring families into the school,” Mrs. Myers said. “The projects are centered different purposes for reading and writing, too, so it’s not just reading a book and doing some craft around it. It’s all hands-on.”

This Literacy Night includes a delicious meal prepared by our Latino families, which Mrs. Myers hopes will bring our diverse school population together.

“I wanted to set up an opportunity for families to talk and get to know each other a little better and the best way to do that is over food,” Mrs. Myers said.

Dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. and the activities will start at 6 p.m.

Although the event is free, families are asked to RSVP to Jeanine Winkler at jwinkler@bcacs.org or 269-963-4771.

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Questions? Call Cathy Erskine at 269.963.1131