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Sparta Students Reading in Record Numbers from Bluebonnet Book List

  Sparta teacher, Kylie Lawler and Sparta students

What do blueberries, blueberry muffins, blue beverages and a voting box have in common? They are all the ingredients for a Bluebonnet breakfast at Sparta Elementary School. During this time of the year, schools that participate in the Texas Bluebonnet reading program celebrate the reading achievements of students by conducting a breakfast at their school.

According to Lori McLaughlin, the librarian at Sparta, 84 students in grades third through fifth read five or more of the 20 books on the Bluebonnet book list this year. “This is our largest group of students to participate and a little more than half were third graders,” said McLaughlin. “There was a lot of encouragement from the third-grade teachers to get involved and it sparked the student’s enthusiasm. Hopefully that will carry through for the next couple of years and they will be an example for the younger kids.”

Sparta teacher, Kylie Lawler had a photo taken with her third-grade class after breakfast to document their achievement. “All of my kids read five books and one of them read 20,” said Lawler. “They worked hard and have already started looking at next year’s book list.”

As each student entered the library they were given a ballot, which contained a list of the 20 Bluebonnet books. After marking their favorite title, the ballots were placed in a box to be tallied up at a later date and submitted electronically through the Bluebonnet program’s website. 

Sparta librarian, Lori McLaughlin and Sparts students

The author of the chosen book is presented with the Texas Bluebonnet Award at the Texas Library Association’s annual conference in April. Last year’s winning title was “The Day the Crayons Quit.” “It was a picture book which seems to be the most popular and tends to win each year,” said McLaughlin. “I encourage the students to read at least one chapter book to see how fun it can be to mentally visualize your own pictures as the story forms. I know they are reading anyway, but the Bluebonnet program encourages them to try different things and to step out of their normal reading habits. I think it challenges their mind in a different way and helps them figure out that other types of literature are good.”

Sparta student, Samuel Babcock, enjoys challenging his mind. “Whenever you are reading, you can imagine the characters,” said Babcock. “I am currently reading a Harry Potter book. I have seen the movie, but whenever I am reading the book, I see the characters differently since that is how they are described. Books take you on your own wild imagination.”

Babcock has participated in the Bluebonnet program three years in a row. His favorite book last year was “Dead City.” “My favorite this year is ‘Mountain Dog,’” said Babcock. “My dog is a chocolate Labrador which is just like the dog in the book. I bought the book at a recent book fair and really liked it.”

The Bluebonnet book list contains fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and biographical titles. “Several of the books have sequels and the kids get excited and want to continue through the series,” said McLauglin. “So, we will purchase the rest of the books for them to check out for their personal reading enjoyment.”

Sparta student, Makenna Morrow says she loves to read and made it her goal this year to read every book on the Bluebonnet book list. “Every time I came to the library, I made sure to grab a book,” said Morrow. She likes to read realistic fiction and noted that her favorite book this year is “Sky Jumpers.” “Sometimes the book titles don’t sound very interesting to me, but since they are on the Bluebonnet list, I figured they would be good.” She hasn’t been disappointed.

Neither has Sparta student Zoe Smith, who is on her second year of participating in the program. Her favorite book this year is “Always Abigail.” “I think reading is important because it helps kids learn to be in the real word,” said Smith. Historical books are Smith’s favorite.

Student vote totals will be submitted through Jan. 31. The winning book title is announced the first week of February. View the 2015-2016 Texas Bluebonnet Award master book list at the following link: 

View photos of Sparta’s Bluebonnet breakfast on the Belton ISD Facebook at the following link:

Sparta students