The magical world of reading

11/23/2013

After-school book club geared around Harry Potter series.

After-school book club geared around Harry Potter series.

The sign above the westernmost hallway at Victor Ornelas Elementary School reads "Diagon Alley."

Photos of second-, third- and fourth-graders dressed as witches and wizards with the words Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor written in dark ink are taped to the walls. Two days a week, Victor Ornelas is home to the after-school Harry Potter Reading Club for students who excel in reading.

Inside, students, with the help of three teacher volunteers, dive into the pages of the Harry Potter series.

"We have houses — Slytherin, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Gryffindor — just like in the book," said teacher Tammy Ueke, founder of the after-school club. "They took a quiz at the beginning of the year, and based on their personality traits, that's how we put them in their houses."

Students in the club currently are reading the third book of the series, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban." In addition to reading chapters of the book, in Harry Potter style students get house points for their achievements, play jeopardy and do art projects to dig deeper into the books.

This week, they drew advertisement posters for shops in Diagon Alley, Harry Potter's magical downtown shopping district.

"I'm making an ad for a frog bat, I call it a 'bat-og,'" third-grader Tucker Oglesby said, pointing to the winged reptile creature on his page. "It has really good jumping legs and also it can fly."

In order to join the club, students must be chosen by their teachers, have a certain DRE (Diagnostic Reading Assessment) score, and of course, love to read.

"Reading club is awesome because you can hang with your friends, and the best part about it is that I love reading and we read every day," fourth-grader Alejandra Mancha said.

Many of the participants in the club are familiar with Harry Potter because of the movies, but this is the first chance that they have had to read the books.

"It really has opened me up to Harry Potter, and the day that I started coming here they welcomed me," fourth-grader Brooklynn Sperry said. "It was very, very, very unique, and I like it because I can be around my friends."

Sperry, like every participant in the Harry Potter Reading Club, has been assigned to one of the four houses identified in the books.

"I am in Ravenclaw. They are smart and very wise," she said as she drew an owl on her poster.

Ueke founded the club in hopes of bringing the series, which she enjoys reading, to a younger generation.

"A lot of children will not be able to read the books without adult help because the conceptual understanding is not always there for this age of kids, but they have the interest," she said. "I had a lot of students that really had the interest. Even in the second grade, they really liked the topic."

Whether it's reading, trivia or the art work, students don't mind staying after school an extra hour in order to be a part of Harry's adventures.

"What makes it fun is that I really love reading, so the reading part is pretty fun for me," fourth-grader Deanna Aniles said. "The arts and crafts really help me practice. When I grow up, I want to be an artist. It helps me on my career when I grow up."

Because she is a fourth-grader, this is Aniles' last year at Victor Ornelas. She will be at Charles O. Stones Intermediate Center next year.

"I can't be here next year for this," she said. "But hopefully, they have one of these book clubs at my new school."

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