Reconnect yourself, not by e-mail or with your iPod, but with reading and running through a program called Exercise the Right to Read!

This program encourages reading and fitness in public schools across the United States; its goal is to raise funds for school libraries and to give books to disadvantaged children. In this program, school children collect pledges, promising to run 1 mile per day and read 26 minutes each night for a total of 26 days.

Money raised goes toward their school library. When the student has run a total of 26 miles, they have completed the equivalent of a marathon. A portion of the proceeds, 10 percent, raised by each school is donated to an organization called First Book, which then distributes books to underprivileged children.

Exercise the Right to Read started Oct. 1 and will continue through Nov. 4, the day of the New York City Marathon. To keep track of participants’ progress, Sequoyah Middle School gave students reading and running progress charts.

To encourage student participation, Sequoyah will hold a party for the top 26 student fundraisers. During the party, students will enjoy pizza, receive a T-shirt and will help choose books for the school’s library. The T-shirts for the top reading racers were designed by the teen leadership elective class.

Teen leadership student Kate Foringer was involved in preparing for the launch of the program at Sequoyah.

“Getting to design all of the advertisements, like posters and T-shirts (was my favorite part),” she said.

As a bonus, the teacher whose class generates the most money will receive a book certificate to Best of Books bookstore, in Kickingbird Square.

Wendelin Van Draanen, a popular children’s author and creator of Exercise the Right to Read, and her husband Mark Parsons are teaming with First Book to promote the program in schools throughout the United States.

The marathon theme grew from Van Draanen’s and Parsons’ passion for both fitness and literature. On Nov. 4, the duo will participate in the New York City Marathon to raise money for the organization. In addition, Van Draanen’s publisher, Random House, will donate one new book for every dollar Van Draanen and Parsons raise during their run.

With the many electronic gadgets children are “plugged” into these days, reading and fitness activity is lacking. Reading is the foundation for children’s ability to learn, and fitness helps fight childhood obesity.

With Exercise the Right to Read, people can benefit their neighborhood school and raise awareness of the importance of reading and exercise.



CLASS ACTS is a weekly feature written by middle school students.

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