Layton mother helping 2nd graders fall in love with reading, one chapter at a time

Kelsey Brown reads the first chapter of the Magic Bone series, "Be Careful What You Sniff For," to her daughter's second-grade class at Whitesides Elementary School in Layton.

Kelsey Brown reads the first chapter of the Magic Bone series, "Be Careful What You Sniff For," to her daughter's second-grade class at Whitesides Elementary School in Layton. (Kelsey Brown)

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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

LAYTON — A second-grade class at Whitesides Elementary School is falling in love with reading thanks to Kelsey Brown, to one of the students' moms who has mastered the art of the cliffhanger.

Every Friday, Brown visits her daughter's classroom and reads her and her classmates the first chapter in an engaging chapter book. Just as the kids can't wait to find out what happens next, Brown tells them they will have to read the book on their own to learn more.

Brown said she fell out of love with reading as a child because of being assigned to read specific books in school. She hopes that by introducing First Chapter Friday, an idea she found on Pinterest, she can teach her daughter's class from a young age that reading is fun.

"Landmark research by the Annie E. Casey Foundation has previously shown that reaching reading proficiency by third grade is a clear predictor of academic success," Scholastic reports. "And yet the Kids & Family Reading Report finds it is just at that stage that children's frequency of reading books for fun begins to drop: Only 35% of 9-year-olds report reading five to seven days a week compared to 57% of 8-year-olds."

Brown feels especially sympathetic for this group of second graders since the onslaught of COVID-19 eclipsed their kindergarten year, and they've never known what a normal school year looks like.

"I'm trying to — with every bit of me — will these kids to want to read through that age 9," Brown said. "So if you can get them over that hump, they're going to be so much more successful."

Although the children love hearing Brown read them the stories, it isn't necessarily easy for them to get access to the books for themselves. Whitesides is a Title 1 school, and many of the children's parents are working during the day so they don't necessarily have the time to take them to the public library. Because they live in a low-income area, extra funds to buy books aren't easy to come by, either.

That's why Brown started a GoFundMe page to purchase more copies of the books she's read to the students and donate them to the school library. So far, she's raised $280, but that doesn't include the books anonymous donors have purchased off her Amazon wishlist, which totals up to more than $240 in books.

"I want to thank all the people who have already donated. I am just floored at the generosity of people and thank you so much for championing these children through a difficult time."

For those who would like to instill a love for reading in their young child, here is a list of the books and series Brown has introduced to the second-grade class:

* does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisors and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

More Reading Recommendations:

About the Author: Megan Christensen

Megan Christensen is an avid reader, writer and language snob. She received a bachelor's degree in communication with an emphasis in journalism from Brigham Young University-Idaho. Megan is passionate about sharing inspiring stories in Utah, where she lives with her husband and two kids. To read more of her articles, visit Megan's author page.


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