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TJRC launches the STARS/EPALA reading program 

March 31, 2023 

GUELPH, ON – Earlier this year, the Terry James Resource Centre (TJRC) launched the STARS/EPALA (Students Taking Action Reading Solo / Élèves prennent action en lecteur autonome) program. 

This program was initiated as a way to motivate and engage students in reading for pleasure. Other program goals included achieving K-12 literacy and FSL curriculum expectations, highlighting and celebrating diverse literary voices and using the program as a chance to define and enrich the UGDSB’s reading culture. These goals and more were met while this program ran with students in kindergarten through grade 10 participating. 

In the new year, teachers were given the opportunity to sign their class up for the STARS/EPALA program. Once a classroom teacher signed up, students were given the chance to participate in this optional reading program. During the reading period, students read books for pleasure through the Sora app, at the end of the week students reported how many hours they spent reading to teachers. At the end of the reading period teachers calculated the final tally for all students in their class and submitted their numbers to the TJRC. Prizes were awarded to classes by total time read and by draws.  

Sora is a student reading app that provides eBooks and audiobooks to users at all schools – it also available to educators and other board staff. According to TJRC Supervisor of Library and Media Services, Lauren Bull, part of the inspiration behind the STARS/EPALA programs was to introduce teachers and students to the Sora platform, which houses thousands of books, eBooks and audiobooks in both English and French. Sora has been available for some time, but some folks had not yet discovered exactly what this app could do. The Sora app is always available to students including during the summer break and is also available to UGDSB staff members through the UGCloud landing page or the TJRC website. 

This year the contest reading period ran from February 1 to March 21. More than 60 classes registered for the independent reading contest with a total of 1,493 students participating. The final reading tally across the program was over 20,900 minutes or 3,483 hours read. 

Prizes including iPads, Indigo gift cards, and Sora t-shirts were awarded to 6 classes this year: 

Staff and students who participated had positive things to say about the program. One student said, “I really enjoyed this competition – it helped me read more than usual…I enjoyed being able to read and relax, remembering that reading is actually relaxing and fun.” 

The TJRC plans to run this program again next school year with some changes based on student and staff feedback. The TJRC hopes to add more French reading content to the Sora collection for the next school year and engage more participation from older readers.  

Congratulations to all of this year’s winners, we can’t wait to see what next year has in store!  

Do you enjoy reading for pleasure? Tweet @UGDSB and @terryjamesrc with some of the titles you’re reading or would like to see added to the Sora collection. #UGReads #UGLiteracy #LoveofLearning 

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