2015, may, ThisWeek, ThisWeekNews, westerville

8th-grader reads circles around librarian, classmates

From ThisWeek News Westerville News and Public Opinion 

Read it also on ThisWeekNews.com

Wednesday May 27, 2015 2:17 PM

Some students read a book for fun every now and then. Others read only those books assigned by their teachers at school.
And then, there are the students who read at least a book a day. Really.
Gabby Freshly, just finishing her eighth-grade year at Blendon Middle School, earned an astonishing 2,053 Accelerated Reader points for the 2014-15 school year. For her three-year career at Blendon, she earned a total of 5,441 AR points.
To put that number into perspective, reading the classic novel Charlotte’s Web and achieving the highest possible results after testing about its content, is worth just five AR points.
Gabby just completed the equivalent of reading Charlotte’s Web every day, for the last three consecutive school years.
Gabby’s mom, Jenny Freshly, is an English teacher, and said her daughter’s love of reading started when she was just 13 months old and she discovered a National Geographic article about bald eagles.
“She was just fascinated by that article and wanted to completely understand it,” Jenny said. “I read to her as a child but pretty quickly she began to outpace me and started to just read on her own.”
Today, Freshly said, she is still amazed at how “incredibly quickly” her daughter reads. She estimates Gabby reads about a book a day.
“When she was in sixth grade, I remember a teacher telling me at a parent-teacher conference that she was concerned by how much Gabby was reading,” she said. “She’d sit down before class and whip out a book and start reading.”
Even at home, Freshly has to remind Gabby not to read at the dinner table.
However, by no means is Gabby just a bookworm. During her just-concluded years at Blendon, she competed for the school’s Battle of the Books team (of course), and also was involved in Mock Trial, student council and played soccer.
Gabby said she prefers to read science-fiction, fantasy, dystopian and historical fiction books.
The AR program encourages students to read a variety of books, including fiction as well as nonfiction.
Blendon school librarian Karen Yingling was a friend and mentor through the pages of three years at Blendon, Gabby said.
“Mrs. Yingling got me hooked on historical fiction and she gave me some good nonfiction books to read. Usually I don’t like nonfiction books,” she said.
“I want students to love what they read and I was happy to recommend new books to Gabby,” said Yingling.
Gabby said her favorite author is J.K. Rowling and her favorite book series was Rowling’s Harry Potterbecause “It’s really well-written and there’s a lot of action.”
“Reading is just fun. I get to do things I wouldn’t normally be able to do,” she said.
Before she even started sixth grade, Gabby asked Yingling if she could be a library helper, and she served as a library helper all throughout her time at Blendon.
“She’s very self-motivated and was willing to step up to any challenge,” said Yingling.
Gabby read for enjoyment and for comprehension so she would be able to answer the fact-based multiple choice questions on the AR tests.
Just for fun, Yingling did the AR program with the Blendon students this year and earned 400 points.
At the end of the school year, more than 21 students also earned 400 or more AR points and were recognized at a special assembly.
Gabby said she will continue her voracious reading when she attends Westerville South High School beginning this fall, even though she will no longer be striving to earn AR points.
“She reads because she likes to read, not for the points,” said Freshly.
Yingling said that Gabby will definitely be missed in the library.
“It’s not often that you find a reading kindred spirit like that,” she said.

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