Inside the Berlin Elementary School, kids are getting revved up for reading.
"I like Hansel and Gretel," said Gavin Fordham-Stephens, a first-grader.
"I like Army books," said Scott Ellsworth, a second-grader.
And outside the school, they're being rewarded for their efforts.
"Even a race car driver has to read," Troy Kingsbury said.
The students recently met a "Race to Read" challenge to tackle 15 books each in just the last two months. Their reward Friday-- a visit from race car driver Troy Kingsbury.
"I didn't really know that any race car drivers liked to read that much," said Kadyona Striker, a second-grader.
"He started the car and we got to see how loud it was," Ellsworth noted.
Kingsbury is also a dad with a message that's pretty simple.
"To read, read, read," said Cody Bell, a second-grader.
"If we can get the kids to read earlier and enjoy books when they are younger, then I hope that when they get to the teenage years they are not on the Xbox, they are not playing the video games, they are not texting their friends, they think maybe I will read a book," Kingsbury said.
The visit that allowed youngsters to sign these special race cars was important to principal Chris Dodge. He's overseeing improvements to how literacy is taught at the school. They started with an audit of the program three years ago and have included introducing more nonfiction in the classroom, reading aloud with students and making sure teachers have the training they need.
"Part of the responsibility of teachers is to figure out how that individual student is learning and to differentiate the instruction to meet their needs. It is no longer just a stand and deliver," Dodge said.
Dodge says with a push in education to focus more on math and science, it's essential that reading and writing skills get the attention they need.
"Reading can't go by the wayside," Dodge said. "Reading, like the key to a race car, is the access point for our students for everything they are going to do in their future."
Futures that look bright for these young people who are sharing tips to get others hooked on books.
"Well if you don't like to read, just try it and you might like it," Striker advised.
And you might just get a special visitor to your schoolyard, too.
Since last year, Vermont kids have read 5,000 books as part of the Race to Read program. Dr. Seuss titles ranked the most popular with more than 200 kids picking from the childhood favorite.
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