FARMINGTON — As they ate their lunches. second-graders at W.G. Mallett School were focused Thursday on guest readers at the front of their classrooms.

Readers Sue Farris and Shelley Chasse-Johndro of the University of Maine at Farmington were participating in the Maine Department of Education’s Read to ME Challenge.

Farris’ reading of “Princess Cora and the Crocodile,” written by Laura Amy Schlitz and illustrated by Brian Floca, elicited giggles. The story involves a princess and a crocodile with a mop on its head, and some shenanigans.

Chasse-Johndro read “The Wild Robot” written by Peter Brown. The story is about a robot named Rozzum, nicknamed Roz, who lands on an island and works to assimilate to the culture, Chasse-Johndro said. Eventually robots come to get Roz but it will be her choice if she wants to go back.

Students started reading the book before February vacation and picked up on chapter six Thursday. One student told Chasse-Johndro he had finished it and she asked him to not tell the others the ending. 

Chasse-Johndro asked students questions about the book, which includes otters playing with pieces of other robots that crash-landed on the remote island in the sea, and Roz learning to survive.

Kathryn Will-Dubyak, a literacy education professor at University of Maine at Farmington, said she and school Principal Tracy Williams have been partnering to provide guest readers in kindergarten through second grade to encourage communities to make positive impacts on children by reading to them for 15 minutes at a time.

UMF faculty, students and staff members have been readers over the past month, she said.
“Last year, we did a school wide read-in, but this year guest readers have been visiting kindergarten and first grade classrooms … to read to the children, with second-graders forming book clubs where volunteers have been reading chapter books to them during lunch,” Will-Dubyak said.

Shelly Chasse-Johndro of the University of Maine at Farmington asks second-graders at the W.G. Mallett School in Farmington on Thursday what they learned from reading “The Wild Robot.” (Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal)

Sue Farris of the University of Maine at Farmington reads “Princess Cora and the Crocodile” to second-graders Thursday at the W.G. Mallett School in Farmington. Farris sang as part of the reading. (Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal)

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