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Success in Six Words

Birthday Bash Inspires Book Club for Kids

“Class, it is time to read.”

Fourth grade teacher Kelly Harper knows those six words can evoke these sounds from students: cheers and squeals...and moans and groans. Antonio King used to be part of her groaning section.

"I couldn’t stand to read,” he said. “All those pages and words - it was annoying. I wanted to be outside, scoring soccer goals.” But Ms. Harper had different goals in mind for the nine-year-old. “I told him, you don’t like to read, because you haven’t found the right book. Once you find it, you won’t want to put it down. Read to succeed.”

Birthday Bash & Books

As luck would have it, Antonio learned the value of his teacher’s words during a special celebration held for his fourth grade class. “It was called the Reading Is Fundamental 50th birthday party - and it was so cool,” he smiled.

Reading Is Fundamental or RIF, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving youth literacy. Founded in 1966, its goal is simple: give books to kids. “When RIF turned 50, the organization selected our class at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School to help celebrate this milestone,” said Ms. Harper. “We had books, cake, and music. The students absolutely loved it.”

State Farm, a proud partner of RIF also took part in the celebration. While there, it awarded the school with a grant to support its literacy efforts. “The party was perfect,” said Antonio. “I began to see that knowing how to read, helps you be successful.”In the days following the party, Antonio approached his teacher and asked:

“May I start a book club?”

Those six words, evoked this response from Ms. Harper: “I almost choked on my coffee! I said, what??? Of course you can!!” The pair immediately got to work - finding a time for students to meet, and picking out books for the club to read.Student Antonio King meets with the book club at Amidon-Bowen Elementary School. The club is focused on improving literacy and a love of reading.

“Antonio leads the group,” Ms. Harper smiled. “And he found the right books. I know this because he can’t put them down.”

“I like Harry Potter, Robin Hood and Harriet Tubman,” he said.

A New Chapter

Antonio’s book club gathers once a week in Ms. Harper’s classroom – during recess. And doesn’t mind exchanging his soccer time for quiet time.

“It’s okay, because reading takes me on a different adventure,” he said. “When I read, I get to be the character in the book. I get to be like Robin Hood!”

“I helped Antonio create a pacing guide to keep book club members on track and engaged. I’m so proud of him, and the students in my class,” said Ms. Harper. “I’ve always believed you read to succeed. Because of RIF, and the support of State Farm, it’s now a reality for these students.”

And with each story he starts and finishes…Antonio sums up his literacy adventure with the six words a teacher loves to hear: 

“Reading is now my favorite subject.”

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