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Cinnaminson Students, Staff Take Break to Read

Cinnaminson Middle School's "Read for 2014" initiative aims to promote literacy.

A photo of the Rush Elementary School Reading Train earlier this year. Credit: Janet Tumelty
A photo of the Rush Elementary School Reading Train earlier this year. Credit: Janet Tumelty

If someday, Ellen DeGeneres or the Philadelphia Phillies show up at Cinnaminson Middle School, you’ll probably have Cynthia Astrom to thank.

Each year for the past decade-plus, Astrom, a reading specialist at the middle school, has invited dozens of celebrities and dignitaries—local, regional and national—to the school’s annual read-a-thon. She’s written the aforementioned stars, as well as Kelly Ripa and George W. Bush, among many others.

So far, no luck.

“No one has ever sent anybody,” she said, noting that a number of local figures (committee members, etc.) do come. “When Bush was president, I got a call from his office … They wanted advance notice so they could make room in his schedule (for the following year). But the next year they had a conflict.

“So that was as close as we got to having somebody world-famous.”

The read-a-thon continues on regardless. The school first held the event in 2000, when it was promoted by Scholastic Publishing. The idea, Astrom explained, was to get schools across the country to drop everything and read for 2,000 seconds (approximately 33 minutes) as a way to promote literacy.

Scholastic only did it the one year, but Cinnaminson Middle School has carried on the tradition (thanks in large part to Astrom) every year since. For this year’s read-a-thon, “Read for 2014,” students and staff will read for 2,014 seconds.

“Absolutely everybody does it. The whole building stops to read,” Astrom explained.

“You read silently, your own book that you bring … It’s just neat to have the entire building be so quiet and everybody’s reading. It’s fun.”

Astrom admitted it’s hard to tell how much of an impact the read-a-thon has on students’ outside-of-school reading habits, and lamented the overall decline in America’s love affair with literature. It’s not just kids who are reading less and less either—it’s adults too.

“Our lives have become so busy and so chaotic,” she said.

Astrom said recreational reading is so important for a number of reasons: “There’s so much entertainment, and so many stories to be told. You learn so much about your own character from other characters … You kind of forget your problems and read about other people’s problems. You learn how to solve problems.”

Read for 2014 starts at around 1:55 p.m. Friday. The middle school will also be holding a book fair in the media center all next week.
John December 04, 2013 at 10:32 AM
Reading in the halls is that ok, is there a hidden message there about needing schools, sitting on a cold floor is not good for people and we wonder how people get sick....
rkingsbury32 December 04, 2013 at 06:52 PM
Why is rush pictured and middle school quoted? Could it be because Janet Tumelty works at rush school?
rkingsbury32 December 04, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Also pictured, michele Reismann, a basic skills math teacher, friends with Luxenburg. Yes let 's put her pic in. Somehow it must relate to reading in the middle school?
rkingsbury32 December 04, 2013 at 09:06 PM
She's the big girl on the right
John December 04, 2013 at 09:51 PM
WOW, a picture is worth a 1000 words....they are still on a cold floor why.....
Brian N December 05, 2013 at 11:03 AM
Seriously, who cares who is in the picture, where it was taken or where they are sitting. Can't we just applaud kids being interested in reading? It sounds like a fun event for them.
Rob Scott (Editor) December 05, 2013 at 11:15 AM
rkingsbury32 and John, What are you guys even talking about? Seriously. I can't tell if you're serious or just trolling me (yeah, there's that word again, John). This photo was chosen because—though unrelated to the reading event at CMS Friday—it depicts Cinnaminson students reading en masse. Seemed appropriate to me. Period. End of story.
Brian N December 05, 2013 at 11:46 AM
This is just getting silly. Pundit, feel free to read whatever you want into my comments. I'm not attacking anyone, just making a point that all those questions don't really matter, what matters is that kids learn to enjoy reading. As is often said here, have a nice day.
John December 05, 2013 at 12:10 PM
Reading is fine but why on a cold floor, why not just let them read at there seats, I think its more comfortable than the cold floor....Not trolling just making an observation thats all....
AnoninCinna December 05, 2013 at 09:16 PM
This is great! Anything that encourages kids to read! Today's kids are much more tuned into electronics - video games, phones. It is setting a good example for everyone to read together, something that more parents and families could do at home on a regular basis to help promote reading versus electronics.
Brian N December 05, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I read on the floor all the time.
rkingsbury32 December 06, 2013 at 09:06 AM
Usually a picture relates to an article to answer your question. We wouldn't write about Clinton and put bush in the pic.
rkingsbury32 December 06, 2013 at 09:37 AM
Also I believe the pic was from last year
John December 06, 2013 at 10:30 AM
Brian N, whats the matter do U have no furniture, reading on the floor is funny, hope U do not get sick....
Brian N December 06, 2013 at 11:49 AM
Thanks John! Just having some fun and lightening things up. I too actually prefer a comfy chair for reading. ;-)

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