Clearview Elementary’s Molly Allen finds ways to keep students engaged with reading

Published 8:45 am Friday, April 28, 2023

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In recognition of National Library Week, The LaGrange Daily News is interviewing media specialists.

For Molly Allen, becoming Clearview Elementary School’s media specialist was a part of a career change.

“My background was in journalism, and I did marketing for many years. I loved doing that but I knew I wanted to do something more,” Allen said. “I had always loved reading and kids, and I thought, ‘Why not go back to school and become a media specialist?’ So, I went for it, and I’m so glad I did because I love what I do.”

Now as CVES’s media specialist, Allen said she enjoys many parts of the job, but her favorite thing is to get kids excited about reading.

“There are so many parts that I love about being a media specialist. I love reading to the kids, and doing reading promotions. Those are fun and really help the kids excited about books. I like the variety of the job but working with the kids is my favorite along with getting good books into their hands and having them be excited about the books that they’re reading,” Allen said.

As an advocator of literacy, Allen said she creates different types of initiatives for reading that promotes reading.

“When we stopped doing AR, we needed to come up with a new way to get kids excited about reading. This year we did Game on for Reading and the kids had to read to meet a certain goal. If they met their goal, they got a prize. Right now, we are doing a The Price is Right themed initiative and the kids get to spin the wheel for meeting their goal,” Allen said.

In preparation for the GMAS, Allen said the older kids are doing a GMAS challenge online that will work as extra practice and get them motivated for the big test.

“For the past three weeks, I’ve been doing the GMAS Challenge where older kids will do a math, a paired reading and a single passage each week, just as an extra practice. I worked with our TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment,) and she gave me the materials and I pushed it out in the ongoing The Price is Right challenge,” Allen said. “I think it helps to get them motivated and pumped up to take the test.”

She said as an end-of-the-year initiative, the kids have a goal to read 11,000 books for a special surprise. At the time of printing, the kids have read 10,847 books.

To continue to promote reading, Allen said she tries to listen to what the kids want to read and include more diverse books.

“I feel strongly that the media center should be a fun and happy environment, and that the kid should want to come in here,” Allen said. “It’s really important to meet the kids where they are and a big focus of mine is to get the right books to make them like reading more. I’ve been trying to get more diversity into our collection, introduce them to books that they can relate to, and that they can see themselves in.”

This year’s theme for CVES is better together. Going along with the theme, Allen said she feels teachers and media specialists work together to make reading fun.

“We work together to make sure that kids are getting the right books, and that they’re learning to love reading not just as something to do or something to learn, but as something they can choose to take joy in,” Allen said.