Education

SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT: First Chapter Friday

By Patterson Federal Credit Union

“I have a lot of students that say they hate reading. But I don’t think they hate reading, they just haven’t found the right book.” – Maria Fields, 10th grade English, Arkadelphia High School

Maria Fields’ and Grant Reimers’ English classes are doing a weekly activity designed to help foster a love of reading and books in the young adults. On First-Chapter Fridays, 9th- and 10th-grade students have the opportunity to read the first chapter of a book and compete in a tie-in activity to win a copy of the book.

AHS English teachers Maria Fields and Grant Reimers.

So far, they’ve read “The Hobbit” (students competed in a “Hobbit” coloring contest), “The Martian” (teams competed in a lunar-landing logic game), “The Hunger Games” (teams competed in a “Hunger Games”-inspired game created by Mr. Reimers), and “Children of Blood and Bone” (students completed crossword puzzles and word searches of key vocabulary). Fields and Reimers read the first chapter aloud to their classes, which students often enjoy as much in high school as they do when they are younger.

Nationwide, reading scores are a concern in schools. Fields said she knew they would be asking a lot of their students this year as they worked to improve test scores following the last few years of education in a pandemic world. She wanted to give them a cognitive break while also building a love of reading.

“Our goals are to encourage students to read for pleasure, to introduce them to new books, and to inspire them to discover new books on their own,” said Fields. 

“At first students were hesitant, now they are focused and interested. They are getting new stories and making connections with characters, stories and words. Their love of words is growing,” said Reimers. 

Aniya Ford, a sophomore at AHS, went to the library and checked out a book for the first time in her high school career after a few weeks of First Chapter Fridays. “I like First Chapter Fridays because I didn’t know what I would like to read,” she said. “I realized I like fiction with some mystery and checked out my first book this year. I don’t usually like for people to read to me but in this activity I can relax.”

“I was already a reader to start with and I like science fiction,” said Ava Beck, a sophomore. “I like the competition and that this allows us a chance to expand our minds.”

Ryan Rogers, a freshman, is one of the winners of their competition. He won the most recent competition and his own copy of “Children of Blood and Bones”. He said he likes the help he receives from Mr. Reimers. “I have never been strong in English but with his help I am getting better now,” said Rogers.

Rogers isn’t the only one who holds a high opinion of Reimers’ teaching style. Zuri Jones, a freshman, added, “I like that he reads to us, he explains things to us. I have always been strong in English but not as much in reading.”

First Chapter Fridays is one way for teachers like Fields to prove her point that students only need to find that right book, author or genre to enjoy reading. As for Jones, she’s found hers: “I have found that I like fantasy and fun stories.”

Aniya Ford
Ryan Rogers
Zuri Jones

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