From the Santa Cruz Sentinel

Bronwyn Wyrsch’s 24 fourth-graders at Gault Elementary School in Santa Cruz are split between rooting for the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints in the Super Bowl, but they’ll all be cheering for Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

In September, Wyrsch’s class committed to reading 100 books for the Scholastic Book Club Classrooms Care project, sponsored in part by Manning and his family. They reached that goal a few days ago.

As schools nationwide reach their 100 book goals, the project will donate 1 million books to children in need. So far, students have read nearly 7.3 million books nationwide.

Because some of her class struggles with reading, said Wyrsch, the teamwork aspect of the contest helped them succeed in reading popular books like Hatchet, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Stone Fox.

“You’re already doing a reading program, so this is kind of fun,” Wyrsch said. “A lot of these children don’t have access to lots of books at home.”

Other Santa Cruz schools involved include Calvary Preschool and Santa Cruz Gardens Elementary School. In Watsonville, Calabasas, Radcliff, Starlight elementary schools, Rolling Hills Middle School and Watsonville Charter School for the Arts were involved.

In Wyrsch’s class, Duran Shipstead, 10, said he liked a book called “My Rotten Life,” about a zombie kid.

“It was funny because his index finger and thumb kept falling off,” he said. “He had to always carry glue around.”

Other students read classics such as Judy Blume’s “Superfudge” and Beverly Cleary’s “The Mouse and the Motorcycle.” Omar Gomez, 10, said he liked being part of a program that “gives to kids that need books.”

Lorenia Quijada, 9, said her favorite book so far was one of the Ivy and Bean series, about two little girls who use magic to solve problems. Wyrsch said the series has taken off in her class, and she’s watched her class become better, faster readers through the program.

“Their fluency has increased. I think it’s definitely accomplished the joy of reading, the love of reading, not just reading for a question on a test.”