By Katie Kinney, Corps Member, JPMorgan Chase Team at Hollenbeck Middle School

In an effort to motivate students to become life-long readers, Hollenbeck Middle School in Boyle Heights hosts a “25 Book Campaign” each year.  The campaign asks students to read 25 books equaling a million and a half words in total throughout the school year.

Hollenbeck provides reading benchmarks for each month to help students set goals and pace themselves.  Once a student reaches each benchmark, they are offered prizes for their successes.  One teacher even motivates his students to read by offering a bicycle to the first one to reach the end goal of the campaign.

In addition to supporting the campaign, the JPMorgan Chase Team at Hollenbeck wanted to foster a love for reading in our students and realized we needed a space to support those who want to read, and one that encourages those who may be a little more closed off to reading.  We began a City Year reading club at nutrition, where sixth grade students could come read their choice of book independently and get lost in a story.  Those who are active readers joined immediately and those who just adore City Year wanted to be part of the club.  No matter the reason for joining, we are getting students to read and enjoy it.  Many students have been reading more books, getting closer to the million and a half words goal.

The team noticed that 7th grade students weren’t meeting their reading benchmarks so we introduced a reading club where they can join two corps members in a classroom during nutrition and read the same book aloud in a small group setting.  They are currently reading THE BFG by Roald Dahl.  They review what was read the day before and then read popcorn style until the bell rings.  They stop for difficult vocabulary and check for understanding.  Reading aloud is a challenge for many students, but practicing it on a daily basis helps them become more comfortable with their pronunciation and confidence.

Additionally, City Year has a library of books that students in our After School Program can check out.  When they’re done with homework, they can read alone or with a corps member.  One corps member is reading Harry Potter with an 8th grader–a chapter a day–and he’s loving it!  Together with our teachers, the Chase Team at Hollenbeck is partnering to encourage students to improve their literacy skills and foster a joy for reading through unique motivational strategies and support systems.

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