Making Reading a Riot

Article excerpt

Faced with the denial of a grant to purchase a commercial reading incentive program for the Roberto Clemente Middle School library in urban Philadelphia, librarian Carol Heinsdorf realized she "had the elements for success at our fingertips" through the library's collection of more than 100,000 titles and her open-access policy. The result was the launch of "Reading Riot" in 1999, a voluntary recreational reading club that has caused circulation to surge as much as 30%.

Heinsdorf and school Principal Pat Mazzuca wrote American Libraries, "Middle graders love to belong to clubs and Reading Riot is easy to belong to because all the activity occurs during the school day. Friends read books together. Joining is perceived as 'cool' because of the associated activities--taping your own P.A. announcements, writing poems about books, drawing pictures, and appearing on a book-review video, among others.

"Student choice is a critical component of Reading Riot. …