Read-a-thon nets more than $3,000

The library at St. Philip Neri School in Omaha will get new STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) materials and update its non-fiction section thanks to a student read-a-thon.

From Jan. 30 through Feb. 10, students read 77,049 minutes, surpassing the goal of 75,000 minutes. All students were invited to read at least 30 minutes a day in school and do still more reading outside of school, some raising donations for their efforts.

Using a personalized web site, students logged their reading time and sent a link to family and friends, allowing them to make donations through the site.

As incentives, the top classes in three categories – prekindergarten through second grade, third through fifth grades and sixth through eighth grades – received ice cream sundae parties. Top readers in each class covered their principal with silly string at a student assembly, and the top reader – kindergartner Tony DeSalvo, with 3,782 minutes – received a $25 gift card to Barnes and Noble bookstore.

"Our intent was to promote pleasure reading among the students, and we thought a competitive program might catch their interest," said Christine Clayton, school librarian.

"Reading is critical to learning outcomes, but reading for pleasure is a lifelong skill that develops imaginations, creates informed citizens and aids in stress reduction," she said.