The Harry Potter book series, as we all know, has encouraged reading in millions of school-aged children since the series came out in 1997. But the magic of reading the Harry Potter series is enhanced when a teacher is able to create an environment in their classroom that is suited to students that fall into the category of "below grade level" reading skills. One such teacher at Bellaire Elementary School in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, deserves recognition for encouraging her students to fall in love with reading when she created a 'Harry Potter Club' at her school.
Reading specialist Kellie Peterson organized a reading club that consisted of 26 fourth and fifth graders that fell into the "at-risk" reading level to meet once a week for special lessons. When asking the students what they would be interested in reading, the students voted for the Harry Potter book series.
Miss Peterson read aloud to the class from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, organized exercises, quizzes, and games like quidditch based on the book to test their retention. She separated the students into the four houses and awarded points based on participation, quiz scores, attendance, behavior, and other positive reinforcements.
In the end, the Hufflepuff team won the House Cup and the students were given a pizza party and movie celebration, where the students chose to watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -Part 2.
According to Principal Jim Burgess, "Students wind up in remedial reading classes because they have trouble decoding the words, so they struggle, they get frustrated and they give up." By finding a book series that keeps their interest and holds their attention long enough, they can get past some of these difficulties and are encouraged to read more to strengthen their reading skills.
Congratulations to Kellie Peterson and all of the other reading specialists, who find ways of encouraging reading to the children that struggle through the fantastic series of Harry Potter.