Spring Break versus a Giant Squirrel

by On April 8, 2014 in General, Reading

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Super Squirrel (aka John Triska, Principal, Brittan Acres Elementary School)

Super Squirrel (aka John Triska, Principal, Brittan Acres School, San Carlos School District. (Credit: Diana Dull Akers)

It’s that time of year when many parents are watching their kids hitting a wall with the school-year routine. So it isn’t surprising with various weeks off from school in the mix (President’s week, ski week/spring break) that kids are issuing declarations: “there is no way am I doing ANY school work on break.”

Parents and educators often strive for a message encouraging balance over school breaks, something like “have fun on your break, and don’t forget that can include reading cool books!”? And if you’re a really clever school principal like the one at my daughter’s elementary school, you issue the kids a really clever read-a-thon challenge they can’t resist:

  • Keep a reading log over break; track every minute you spend reading alone or with your parents. Turn the logs in Monday when you return.
  • If the total minutes read by every kid in school reaches this designated bar, Super Squirrel will make an appearance.

Oh, it was on.

I know our kid read every night. ?We dutifully timed and recorded her reading efforts. She happily clocked between 20 and 40 minutes each night reading ?print and e-books, some that she read to us, a more difficult chapter book we read to her. We then turned in the log the following Monday. As we were to learn, a school full of motivated kids did the same.

Sure enough, a few days later, there he was: a six-foot tall caped Super Squirrel in front of the school, jabbering happily to all and waving his congratulatory read-a-thon sign. ?I’m telling you, it was like a rock star had arrived.

They raced to greet him. There were “squeee!” noises and shouts of “OMG!” ?While many kids delighted in telling Super Squirrel they knew his true identity, most played along with delight, even when Super Squirrel joyfully threatened to get into their lunch boxes that day.

Later he appeared in every class because hey, when kids collectively spend over 130,000 minutes reading over school break, it clearly deserves a visit from Super Squirrel, acting a little bit nuts.

Kudos to an awesome principal, and to all those educators who figure out how to keep kids interested and smiling while they learn!



Diana is a sociologist, freelance writer and mom, though rarely in that order. Her writing spans topics from parenting joys and challenges to prevention education. She writes a monthly parenting blog for Yahoo and has published feature articles on adoption, family rituals and the childcare industry for parenting publications. Diana earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These days find her hanging with her husband and book-loving six year old in the San Francisco Bay Area, while happily blogging and serving as a reading advocate for Bookboard.

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