Mindy Bishop knows that her students at Brittany Hill Middle School enjoy using the Reading Counts literacy program.

Mindy Bishop knows that her students at Brittany Hill Middle School enjoy using the Reading Counts literacy program.

A tool to encourage her students to read on their own, it enables them to choose what they want to read and find a love for the written word, she said.

“To see the kids so excited about reading is amazing,” she said. “They like choosing their own books and really have fun with reading.”

But when Scholastic, which owns the independent reading program, announced that schools would have to begin purchasing the entire software package to use the program, Bishop became worried. In the past, schools would only have to buy clusters of quizzes for students to use. The quizzes test the students’ knowledge over the books to ensure they have read each one. The software package – more than $5,000.

Because of slashed funding from the state level and therefore less money from the school district, Bishop knew the program might be lost.

That is when she decided to solve the problem on her own.

“This is a program we have been using for 10 years,” she said. “It is a great program and one we would hate to lose.”

Reading Counts motivates students with suggested readings, reinforcing vocabulary, fluency skills and comprehension. Students choose a book, read it and then take a corresponding quiz.

The first fundraiser, Reading Recess/Movie Night, went successfully earlier this week. Students paid for tickets to watch a movie and then have a field day event. It included kickball, wiffle ball, a bouncy house, face painting and a sidewalk chalk area. The students chose “Toy Story” as the movie.

Through ticket and concession sales, almost $5,000 was raised.

During the rest of the week, Bishop has organized a school raffle.

Prizes include gift cards and smaller items as well as a chance to throw a pie in an administrator’s face.

Teachers will also have the opportunity to pay to wear jeans during a Teacher Jeans Day.

“I think we will reach our goal,” she said. “No, I am sure of it. The students and families here at Brittany Hill have been so supportive, even the community. Everyone wants to do something to support this cause.”

With the new software, students will have 47,000 titles to choose from.

If additional money is raised, the plans are to purchase new books for each of the language arts classrooms.

Bishop said it is important to remember that the Reading Counts program does not take the place of what is done in the regular classroom. Reading Counts, she said, only expands what is learned and helps students to develop a love for reading.

“It makes them lifelong learners, reading books on their own,” she said. “They will be able to choose anything they want and find something that gets them excited about reading. Every bit of reading helps with comprehension. It helps in so many areas of school. That is why becoming a good reader is important.”