Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School teachers are leaning on the continued popularity of Pokemon to challenge fourth-graders to up their reading game.

Edison Intermediate/Larson Middle School teachers are leaning on the continued popularity of Pokemon to challenge fourth-graders to up their reading game.

In the school's annual Genre Challenge, students are striving to earn Mew Master status by reading at least 40 books in a variety of genres.

Students can earn a sticker for each genre they complete. Those who master the challenge earn a Mew Master badge.

Resembling a cat, Mew is classified as a legendary Pokemon, one of the rarer and most powerful creatures in the series and, as of yet, still uncatchable in the enduring Pokemon Go phone game -- but more than a dozen Grandview students have caught him nevertheless.

As of the end of February, 15 students had earned a Mew Master badge, and many more were well on their way to finishing the challenge before the end of the school year.

The Genre Challenge is coordinated by Sarah Hoepf and Jen Palmer, the school's fourth-grade English Language Arts teachers.

"Our goal is to develop well-balanced readers," Hoepf said. "By the time they reach fourth grade, many students have developed a preferred genre in books. They begin to develop a narrow focus in their reading."

"We're trying to take them out of that comfort zone and try something new," Palmer said. "It's like asking a child at the dinner table to try a new food and they find out they like it."

Students are reading and earning stickers in the genres of graphic novel, mystery, traditional literature, science fiction, realistic fiction, fantasy, poetry anthology, informational text (nonfiction), historical fiction and biography, autobiography or memoir. They also are challenged to read four chapter books of their choice.

"We've partnered with the Grandview Library and our school's media specialist, Kristi Jump, to come up with lists of books in each genre they may want to try," Hoepf said.

The book lists include suggestions to appeal to students regardless of their reading skill or interest, she said.

"We want to encourage them to keep reading and make it as fun for them as we can," Hoepf said. "We know not every student is an avid reader."

Palmer said one of the most gratifying aspects of the Genre Challenge is seeing how students are talking about and recommending books they are reading.

Greta Kamhout is one of 15 fourth-graders who already has achieved Mew Master status.

"At first when I heard about this, I thought I could never actually read 40 books," she said. "I just used to like to read Harry Potter books. I didn't think I would like other kinds of books.

"This has really opened my mind to trying out different kinds of books," Greta said. "It's changed me as a reader. I'll be more willing to read something new."

"I never wanted to read historical fiction before," fourth-grader Ben Carini said.

That was until he started reading the "I Survived" series, historical fiction that tells the stories of boys who survived disasters.

"You find out about all these things that really happened to people," Ben said.

Reading 40 books was a challenge, Rhiannon Root said.

"I tried to find time every day to read, at least a little bit," she said. "You have to stick with it."

Carrie Furbee said she did not expect to like reading historical fiction, but she found "One Crazy Summer," a book about three sisters who spend the summer of 1968 visiting their estranged mother in California, to be a page-turner.

"A book like that puts you into another place and time," she said.

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