'The Year of the Perfect Read-A-Thon'

Feb. 06, 2014 @ 04:38 AM

Award-winning author Gloria Houston brought her story to Trinity Christian School for the kick-off of its 4th annual Read-A-Thon on Tuesday.

Houston is the author of "My Great Aunt Arizona," "Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile" and "The Year Of The Perfect Christmas Tree."

"We are beyond thrilled that she is here," Faculty Advisor Priscilla McBrayer said. "This is our fourth Read-A-Thon and our 40th anniversary, so to have someone of Gloria Houston's renown here is just absolutely stellar for us."

The theme for this year is "The Year of the Perfect Read-A-Thon" based on Houston's best-selling book. The kick-off began with a reading cheer from the Trinity cheerleaders, a video featuring Trinity students called "Gotta Keep Reading" and a reciting of Dr. Seuss' "I Can Read With My Eyes Shut" by the kindergarten, first and second grade classes.

"I'm so happy to see reading being promoted in a pep rally like this," Houston said. "This is what we need to be doing because reading is one of the most exciting things you can do."

According to Houston's website, she is internationally known as an educator and an author of best selling books for young readers. She has a bachelor's degree from Appalachian State University and worked in public and private schools in grades k-12. Her books have won and been listed on more than forty awards and awards list. "The Year Of The Perfect Christmas Tree" was on the annual Publisher's Weekly Best Seller List and was named "Best Book of the Decade" by the American Library Association. Trinity requested Houston attend the kick-off and an anonymous donor paid for her appearance.

Media coordinators from each elementary school in the county were invited to bring a few students to the kick-off and Sunshine Elementary School brought its entire fourth grade because they used Houston in their biography museum this year.

"We just love Gloria Houston. We love all her books. This is a huge event for the county," Robin Smith, media coordinator at Sunshine Elementary School, said. "Mrs. McBrayer contacted us early in the year about this event and because we were using Gloria Houston in our biography museum we were able to join up. They (Trinity) got to come over to the biography museum and they invited us here. We are just so excited."

Houston talked to the audience about the process of writing "The Year Of The Perfect Christmas Tree," which she wrote as a Christmas present to her mother Ruthie Houston. Ruthie is the main character in the book and had also planned to attend the Read-A-Thon kick-off. Unfortunately, she passed away at the age of 99 before the event.

"Ruthie had planned to be with you today. I want to thank the students at Trinity who said prayers for her and made her cards," Houston said. "I have a feeling that somewhere sitting in those chairs back there, there is an image of Ruthie joining me today."

Houston encouraged the students to continue reading and quoted her hero Louise Rosenblatt who is best known as a researcher into teaching of literature. The quote Houston shared was "A book is not the same book to any two readers."

"The reader brings as much meaning to the text as the writer brings to the text. A book is not the same book to the same reader at two different times in that reader's life because the reader brings different experiences," Houston said. "Remember if the book doesn't suit you today it might next week. Don't give up on it."

The event ended with a special presentation from Trinity. The school sold buttons which were designed by Rebecca Deviney, and used the money to present Houston with a $810 check. The money will go toward a teaching scholarship at Appalachian University, which is something Ruthie always wanted.

"No book for an adult will ever be as important as a book for a child," Houston told the students. "Thank you for reading books and thank you for letting me be a part of this pep rally for reading."

Trinity's annual Read-A-Thon is a reading incentive program designed to motivate the students to read and to reward them for that reading with prizes. It is also the school's largest fundraiser. Students ask for sponsors and receive monetary donations based on the amount of reading they do over a 21-day period. Last year the school raised $9,000 for curriculum needs. All of the money raised this year will go to purchase 11 iPad minis plus apps to make them compatible to SMART Boards, Accelerated Reader/Renaissance Learning for all students and two new SMART Board projectors.

"The Read-A-Thon is a wonderful way to get students reading and to engage their minds along with raising money for our school," Head of School Tiffany Walker said. "This year our goal is 100,000 minutes and to raise $10,000 for our school."

For more information about Houston visit www.gloriahouston.com. For information on becoming a sponsor for a student during the Read-A-Thon call the school at 828-286-3900.