William B. Orenic students given opportunity to review newly-released books

Teacher describes program as a great opportunity for her Troy 30-C class


Last updated 4/25/2021 at 6:24pm

Troy students Mayah Tyler and Lucas Houlihan with teacher Beth Kowalczyk

An English language arts class at William B. Orenic Intermediate School has been given the opportunity to share their thoughts with a national community of student readers about new books they are reading.

Beth Kowalczyk, who teaches advanced ELA at the Troy Community School District 30-C school, said the online resource Biblionasium, which describes itself as "the largest social book club for kids," asked if her class would participate in a new kids' online book review program they are pioneering this year.

In the program, the platform sends her class new books – some even before their releases – and the students can volunteer to read them and write about their favorite characters, how the books made them feel and what kinds of readers might enjoy them, among other comments.

The site has been a popular one for Kowalczyk's students for a few years, as they log in, rate and summarize the books they read. So far this school year, her students have read and logged more than a thousand books on the site. An avid reader herself, Kowalczyk said she and her students were intrigued by the new expanded program.

"I think this is a great opportunity for our students to see that all their work reading this year is paying off," she said. "The platform reached out to us and said our students were doing amazing things. Participating in this is giving them the opportunity to read new books that I don't have and that our library doesn't have and giving their personal reviews on them."

Mayah Tyler, one of Kowalczyk's students who is participating, read the book, "Kid Innovators: True Tales of Childhood from Inventors and Trailblazers," by Robin Stevenson and Allison Steinfeld.

"I loved it," she said. "It was beautifully written, and I learned a lot."

It was also fascinating, she added. The book tells the childhood backgrounds of such trailblazers as Elon Musk, Alan Turing, Steve Jobs, the Wright brothers, Jonas Salk and Jacques Cousteau.

In her online review, Mayah wrote that the book made her feel inspired. Her favorite innovator was Madame C.J. Walker, the glass ceiling-breaking African-American entrepreneur who was the first female self-made millionaire in the country.

Lucas Houlihan read, "96 Miles," by J.L. Esplin, about two young brothers who have to walk 96 miles in the desert to seek help after a massive blackout. It was the friends who came to their rescue that made the biggest impact on Lucas. The character Noah was his favorite.

"He was always making the big decisions," Lucas said, "and he refused to drink so he could save water for the others."

This was the 29th book Lucas has logged on to the site this school year, and the first on the site's new program. He said the best thing about the program is being able to recommend books to other people. It will give them a bigger choice of good books to enjoy, he said.


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