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Reading all about it and more
South Effingham Elementary student has read more than 900 books
Taylor Anderson
Taylor Anderson has read 921 books since coming to South Effingham Elementary in the second grade. - photo by Photo by Sandi Van Orden

Taylor Anderson has broken the accelerated reader records at South Effingham Elementary School during the last few years.

Anderson consistently read two books a day, taking 10 tests for the program every week.

“I really like to read. The points are just a bonus for me,” she said.

She said reading is fun. Her favorite book is “A Cat of a Different Color.”

Peggy Helmly, media specialist at SEE, said Anderson, who moved here in October 2004, has read 9,437,000 words this year alone.

“In three and a half years, she’s read 24,770,000 words,” Helmly said. “In her career with us Taylor has earned 3,663 AR points. Just this year she’s earned 1,352 points.”

The most AR points Anderson has earned for a book was for reading “Gone With the Wind.”

Helmly said Anderson has taken 921 tests, or read 921 books for the program since she began at the school.

Anderson, who wants to be either a teacher or a botanist when she grows up, has earned a limo ride to Ruby Tuesday and lunch from Chick-fil-A among other prizes for her points.

“Taylor has broken all of our records,” Helmly said. “We’ve had some kids do really well. Last year she broke 1,000 points, and she broke her personal best this year.”

Anderson will begin middle school next year, and Helmly said she hates to see her leave.

“Except I’m kind of glad she’s moving on, because I’m running out of books,” Helmly said.

According to the Georgia performance standards, fourth and fifth graders are expected to read a million words.

“Most of them come in between 800,000 and a million,” Helmly said. “A lot of schools estimate that (students) should read about 25 books a year.”

The accelerated reader program began around 1994, but the expectations of the program increased and data tracking increased after the No Child Left Behind Act was passed.

“We really started to work on reading practice, and reading practice at home,” Helmly said. “When we first started AR, it was take a test and get a prize. Now we really track the data, and we really try to get them to keep at it.”

Helmly said at the beginning, middle and end of every school year, the students are tested to see what grade level they read on.

“What we do at the end of the year is track growth,” she said. “We know they should be growing at least the school year, but when they grow beyond that, we know that practice is making a difference.”

Anderson’s most recent test showed she read on a 12th grade level in the first month.

“I just like to read,” she said.

“As a librarian I like to hear that you read just because you like to read,” Helmly said.