What happens when students open a door, and it leads them into an imaginary world?
That's the plot of a book called Wellspring of Magic (by Jan Fields), which avid reader Selena Bouder rates as tops amongst the 60 books she's read in the last six weeks.
Bouder and a dozen other students recently completed a program called Reading Rocks, sponsored by St. Luke's Hospital Miners Campus and hosted by Lansford Public Library. They were treated to a pizza party at the library Wednesday, where St. Luke's also rewarded them with Reading Rocks t-shirts, movie theater passes at Angela Triplex and a calendar.
Bouder, a second-grader at Panther Valley Elementary School, said she loves to read.
"I like to read about adventures people are having," she said. "When I read Wellspring of Magic, I felt I was actually in the story."
Hollie Gibbons, manager of disease prevention initiatives for St. Luke's Hospital, explained how the Reading Rocks program works.
"We kick things off with a book drive, asking for children's books, and usually gather from 5 to 7 thousand books," she said. "Then we're stocked for the reading program - the child reads to a mentor for the first half hour, and for the second half hour, we provide an educational program on health and safety."
The students take a book or books home, and the program runs for six weeks. Last year, St. Luke's Miner's Hospital ran the program at the Tamaqua Salvation Army, with LCCC students serving as mentors; this year, the Lansford Public Library hosted the program, and hospital employees and parents served as mentors.
Melinda Kurtz, mother of participant Chelsea Kurtz, a first-grader at Panther Valley, said she'd heard her daughter say that she didn't like reading.
"I decided that if I got involved, it might motivate her," Kurtz said. "She went from being behind with her class to being at the head of her class, and she loves reading."
All the students read dozens of books during the time frame, but more importantly, will continue to read, one parent said. Larry Mullen sent his three children, Laralyn, Mathew and Edward to Reading Rocks. The three attend school at Our Lady of the Angels.
"Tonight's party isn't the end of reading for them," Mullen said. "During this time, reading has become more of a habit, and they are all ahead of their grades in reading levels."