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Local boy a top reader

May 12, 2011
Jenn Brookens , Fairmont Sentinel

FAIRMONT - Most young boys are content when they are plugged into their video game systems, or on the family computer. But William Saari is more likely to have his nose in a book instead of glued to the screen.

The second-grader from St. John Vianney is fast approaching a landmark 500 accelerator reader points by year's end, when the average second-grade reader aims for about 50 points.

"A good goal for the second grade is 50," said Saari's teacher Karen Sandhurst. "We do have a lot of ambitious readers in our class; they are all over 50."

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Second-grader William Saari will likely have more than 500 accelerated reader points by the end of the school year. The average accelerated reader points for second grade is 50 points.

But in a rarity for Sandhurst, she had three students break the 225 point mark, in which the student gets to go out to lunch with the teacher.

"It's just outstanding," Sandhurst said. "They've broken the record for the second grade."

Saari's passion for reading apparently inspired some of his classmates.

"One thing feeds another," Sandhurst said. "When one of them tells the others about a book they read or how many, it spurs on what's been a friendly competition. They get inspired to read more, and earn more points."

Sandhurst also saw a boost with St. John Vianney being able to access more of the "tests" online for different books.

"We have access to all of the tests now, although we had a lot before," she said. "But it gives more choices, and we can quiz on any book (the Accelerated Reader program) offers."

As for Saari leading the pack, Sandhurst said the points are not the motivator.

"He truly enjoys reading for the sake of reading," she said. "He'd read with or without Accelerated Reader. It's common for him to be reading books that are at a fifth-grade level."

Those higher-level books are also responsible for giving Saari the high amount of points.

"The second-grade level books are about a .5," Sandhurst said. "But the higher the level, the higher the points."

For example, one of the Harry Potter novels, "Order of the Phoenix," was worth 44 points. Saari completed the Harry Potter series this year. His current read is "A Wind in the Door," a young adult science fiction fantasy novel by Madeleine L'Engle.

"I usually have three or four I'm reading," Saari said. However, he had just finished another book Wednesday morning, bumping his accelerated reader points up to 490.

He highly recommended the Harry Potter series, but also read many of the "A to Z mysteries" series by Ron Roy, the "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series by Jeff Kinney, and the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan.

"Chapter books," is what he says of the type of book is his favorite, but mysteries and action/adventure tend to be his favorite genres.

And he loves to recommend his reading choices, which could be how some of his classmates caught up.

"When he hit the 225 point mark, that's when they earn lunch with the teacher, he knew that two of his friends were catching up," Sandhurst said. "So he waited until they also hit 225 so all three of them could go out together."

Once summertime hit, don't expect Saari's bookshelf to gather dust. He is already thinking of which books he wants to re-read over the summer.

"The Giggler Treatment," he exclaimed. The book by Roddy Doyle is a favorite with kids, with elf-like creatures that "punish" adults for unfair behavior to children.

Saari also said he will probably join the public library's summer reading program. But he also said he won't spend his whole summer being a bookworm.

"I'm playing soccer, too," he said.



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