The names of books read to students by their parents fill construction paper leaves on a tree next to the Holy Family School library in Southeast Portland. The tree was part of a new reading challenge at the school. (Courtesy Holy Family School)
The names of books read to students by their parents fill construction paper leaves on a tree next to the Holy Family School library in Southeast Portland. The tree was part of a new reading challenge at the school. (Courtesy Holy Family School)
To promote early literacy and spark a love for reading, Holy Family School librarian Tamara Beecroft introduced the “Strong Roots, Wise Owls” reading challenge to pre-K and kindergarten students and their parents in November. The challenge was for parents to read at least two books per day with their children for 14 days.

Each student made an owl to hang on a construction paper tree in the hallway outside the library. A packet of leaves was sent home with each student. After finishing a book, students recorded the titles and their names on leaves and attached them to the tree. The response was so enthusiastic and the students were so engaged that the branches quickly became overwhelmed with leaves, making it hard to tell there was a tree underneath. Many more leaves had to be cut out to satisfy the demand.

Students noticed what their classmates were reading, creating interest in new topics and books. Parents were engaged in strengthening their children’s literacy skills while also learning what types of books their children liked.

All readers received a certificate and a prize. One parent remarked that the prize of a new book was meaningful to her daughter because she will remember that she earned it each time she opens its pages.

The “Strong Roots, Wise Owls” reading challenge supports Holy Family’s library program in its objective to create lifelong learners by encouraging a positive attitude toward reading.