Third Graders Read Together: Fostering a passion for reading

If you love reading, your passion for books probably began by the time you were in third grade. Children who are proficient readers by the end of third grade are more likely to succeed in their future education and develop a lifelong appreciation for reading. Since 2013, Sno-Isle Libraries has partnered with schools to support this important milestone.

Sno-Isle Libraries’ Third Graders Read Together program fosters a love of reading and provides books that are nominees for the Washington Library Association’s OTTER Award. The OTTER Award motto is “books kids like, not books adults think kids should like.” Thank you to the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation for supporting the program by providing 3,100 OTTER books to schools and classrooms throughout the region.

Voting for their favorite book was one of many fun activities for participating third graders. The winning OTTER book for 2024 is “My Kingdom of Darkness” (Pet Rule, Book 1) by Susan Tan, illustrated by Wendy Tan Shiau Wei.

Sno-Isle Libraries also hosted two online author and illustrator events in association with this program, which were enjoyed by an estimated 652 students. Andrea J. Loney, author of "Blast Off!," was one of the featured speakers. The other was Drew Brockington, author and illustrator of “Planetary-yum."

“It was exciting to listen to the author and illustrators! Many students started writing their own books after these online events!,” said a teacher from Cedarhome Elementary School.

Since its creation, the Third Graders Read Together program has grown from 29 to 75 schools, with an estimated 5,300 students participating this year.

Another benefit to the current OTTER Award books includes the representation of different cultures and individuals of varying abilities.

A teacher from Chain Lake Elementary School remarked, “‘Awesome Orange Birthday’ was one of the first novels my Indian students have encountered with a book character who looked like them. I also have students in my class who have family members with limb differences like ‘Aven Green,’ and they have identified with her perseverance and ability to succeed. ALL the books have been a great addition to my classroom library.”

Sno-Isle Libraries looks forward to a new class of third graders ready to read together next school year. Until then, children can participate in the Summer Reading program, which encourages them to keep reading to maintain their reading skills.