Million Page Reading Challenge (Winter 2015)

By Kate Dunigan-AtLee, Librarian – East


Abigail Deane definitely recommends The Gathering by Kelley Armstrong

Million Page Reading ChallengeThis year Sturgis Librarians invited students and faculty at East and West to take part in an new initiative called the Million Page Reading Challenge. We challenged the Sturgis community to read one million pages between June 2015 and June 2016.

Why? Reading for pleasure has been correlated with increased empathy and sensitivity (Kidd and Castano). Vivan Howard, in her study of students ages 12-15, observed both academic and social reasons to encourage students to read for pleasure. Her findings correlate pleasure reading with overall literacy and critical thinking skills (49). She also found that reading widely helped teens understand the world around them and develop social consciousness (51).

For all of these reason and for the sheer enjoyment of reading, students and faculty are reading for pleasure; fiction or non-fiction, books, magazines, newspapers, etc. whatever they enjoy most. Ebooks and audiobooks count toward the challenge, too!

To date we have read 315,000 pages toward the goal. Here are some of the books that students and faculty are reading and recommending.


Franz Abagat loves the Cherub series

Franz Abagat, Freshmen @ East recommends The Cherub series by Robert Muchamore. “I would recommend these books because they are filled with humor, action, and adventure.”

Chris Abel, History teacher @ East recommends Children of Paradise by Fred D’Aguiar. “If you like “Magical Realism” (ie. Gabriel Garcia Marquez), this has elements of that style. If you like fictionalized history, this is in that genre. The central historical theme is Jonestown – which is disturbing, but the author produces an epic work. Well worth reading.”

Bob Armenti, Math teacher @ East recommends Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy. “A multi-generational mystery set in Appalachia that will have you wondering and worrying about its well-drawn characters.”


Lily with the fabulous prize she won at the “Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover” party

Lilyanna Benedict, Freshman @ East recommends Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain by Richard Roberts. “Would I recommend it? Absolutely! It’s a great book with many plot twists and, for a change, it’s about being a villain, not a super hero!”

Bridget Bressette, Junior @ East recommends Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee. “Yes, I would recommend this book to a friend. Go Set a Watchman is written by Harper Lee who also wrote To Kill a Mockingbird. Although both of these books are not directly related as a “sequel,” I think that it would be a good idea if the person reading this book had read To Kill a Mockingbird in the past, as the book may make more sense to them.”

Devin Bridgewater, Junior @ West recommends Swan Song by Robert McCammon. “I would recommend this to a friend because it has a very deep story that provides a deep insight into the way people act after the fall of society.”

Ken Byron, Senior @ West recommends The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky. “Yes! It’s a really cool coming of age novel that some folks can relate to.”

photo 2Laurie Carah, Librarian @ West recommends Girls of Riyahd by Rajaa Alsanea. “This book was a fun cultural adventure into the life of Saudi Teens. It was an eye opener into the world of young Saudis who share their moment to moment feelings about love and relationship as they mature in high school and college and consider marriage options. Written from real emails from the young women, it is an easy, fun read with serious considerations about love and marriage in a male dominated society.”

Kalli Conway, Freshman @ West recommends The Walled City by Ryan Graudin. “I liked how the characters were separate but all tangled together. Their names were all oriental and the city was too. In the end they all had to work together to get themselves out of the Walled City.”

51xgGEKd6oL._AA160_Kylie Decas, Freshman @ East recommends Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. “I would recommend this book to all of my friends because it had really good characters, an amazing story plot, and really enforces the rule don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Emma Esterman, Senior @ East recommends And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. “I would recommend this book to a friend because it was a pretty thrilling mystery. The premise of the novel is quite interesting, what with 10 people being lured onto the island and dying according to a nursery rhyme. Hearing how the murders were executed and the clues you missed while reading was a cool touch, made possible by the confession and explanation of murder at the end.”

boys in the boatJolanda Ferguson, English teacher @ West recommends Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. “Even if you are not an oarsman/woman or even an athlete of any kind, this is an uplifting story of human courage, grit, and heart (therefore a great Sturgis read!). In this day and age of commercialized sports and news of athletes cheating with performance enhancing drugs, this book reminds us of what sport is really about and celebrates real heroes. Brown’s well-crafted prose also makes for an engaging read. Highly recommended.”

Megan Freedholm, Freshman @ West recommends All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. “It is a very well written book. It keeps you on your toes as you intertwine with the characters of the book. It also gives great lessons that apply to modern times.”

Kristen Gregg, Sophomore @ East recommends Lies by Michael Grant. “This book is the third in the Gone series. It’s about a group of teenagers who live on the coast of CA when a wall surrounds them and everyone over the age of 15 disappears. Kids start to form powers and clique/gangs begin to join and fight one another. It’s full of suspense and action. Warning: there are a lot of grotesque scenes. But it is still an interesting read.”

off the pageRiley Jakusik, Sophomore @ East recommends Off the Page by Jodi Picoult. “It was like a fairytale for big kids, full of romance friendship and the trials and tribulations of high school. A must read.”

Elaine Kearney, Senior @ West recommends The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx. “Originally, I read this book because I find our discussions on Mao Zedong in our SL History class to be interesting, so I looked for other commentaries on communism as a system. I would recommend this book to everyone, but I understand that not everyone in my age range is interested in reading about communism.”

Jessica Lynch, Special Education Coordinator @ West recommends Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. “This is a funny look at the possibility of the Apocalypse as predicted by a witch and an attempt to avoid it by an angel and demon who love the world.”


Nothing can keep Mrs. Milne from her book

Daniela Milne, Librarian @ East recommends The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. “A thriller, at times creepy and cold, but a page-turner nonetheless. Since I read at night, by myself, surrounded by my sleeping kids, creepy books don’t sit well with me and I tend to dislike them. So in all fairness to this book, it was well-written, characters were fleshed out, and story was good. Ms. Hawkins does a great job using an unreliable narrator and I certainly was rooting for the main character to get her act together and discover what happened.”

Marium Nisah, Freshman @ West recommends Matched by Allie Condie. “I would recommend this to a friend, I would recommend this to anyone who likes dystopian novels. The story wasn’t slow at all, it had a very good plot and enough suspense to keep you from putting the book down.”

Jo Mary Pontes, Math teacher @ East recommends The Woman Who Wouldn’t Die by Colin Cotterill. “I would recommend this book and the other books in the series about Dr. Siri Paiboun. They are fun, with an unusual set of characters – the villains are ultimately the bureaucracy.
I recommend starting with the first three books of the series before going out of order.”

51OkBYoIobL._AA160_Jillian Roberts, Junior @ East recommends I Was Here by Gayle Forman. “Yes I would recommend this book to a friend. I think it’s a book that deals about a tough issue on suicide and how it affects the people left behind. While this book also deals with issues regarding internet safety. Really enjoyed it.”

John Tecklenburg, Science teacher @West recommends Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz. “An accessible history of the United States told from the viewpoint of Native Americans. A must read.”

the-opposite-of-lonelinessMarion Weeks, Community Outreach Coordinator recommends The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan. “This wide-ranging collection of essays and stories is a remarkable feat for any writer, especially one so young. The title essay was the last piece she wrote for the Yale Daily News. “The Opposite of Lonelinesswent viral after Marina tragically died in a car accident on Cape Cod five days after she graduated from Yale. She was about to begin her dream job working for The New Yorker.  We can only imagine the body of work she could have created had her life not been cut short.”

Mr. Weida's cat loves to read, too

Mr. Weida’s cat loves to read, too

Rich Weida, Math teacher @ West recommends The Good Old Stuff by Gardner Dozois. “This is a great collection of “adventure” short stories from the heyday of science fiction. The book is subtitled “Adventure SF in the Grand Tradition” and contains short stories from the 1940s to the 1960s all in the space opera sub-genre. Early scifi stories can seem dated, but not these. Each one contains mind-blowing concepts that will keep you thinking long after you finish the story. Enjoy!”


Jessica Whelpley

Jessica Whelpley, Sophomore @West recommends The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. “I would recommend this book because it provided a life story that is very different than my own and it was very interesting to learn about her life.  The Glass Castle is a wonderful book that gives a new perspective about an almost unbelievable life. The book is extremely well written and impossible to put down.”

Diana Young, Theatre teacher @ East recommends Euphoria by Lily King. “I loved it! I really loved how they used indigenous Australian cultures in the 1930s to comment on relationships, human compassion, and love.”


“Don’t Judge a Book by Its Movie” prize giveaway, December 2015

Works Cited

Howard, V. “The Importance of Pleasure Reading in the Lives of Young Teens: Self-Identification, Self-Construction and Self-Awareness.” Journal of Librarianship and Information Science 43.1 (2011): 46–55. Web.

Kidd, D. C., and E. Castano. “Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory Of Mind.” Science 342.6156 (2013): 377–380. Web.


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