Educators across the globe will tell you that reading is indeed fundamental to learning. One DeKalb County middle school is once again nurturing this concept by providing exciting and highly sought-after books for its eager students.

The popular Read-A-Book campaign at Lithonia Middle School is strategically designed to increase students’ love of reading and reading fluency. Moreover, it’s a fascinating concept that makes learning fun and creativity soar.

Currently, students are captivated by the “Bluford Series,” a widely read collection of contemporary American young adult novels set in the fictional inner-city high school of Bluford High in Southern California. Bluford is named for Guion “Guy” Bluford, the first African American astronaut. Each grade level at Lithonia Middle reads a different book from the series.

“The students absolutely love it,” said Lithonia Middle Principal Tracy Harris. “The kids hold the teachers accountable for reading because they want to answer the trivia questions. They love the books, and we’re excited to increase their love of reading.”

Principal Harris said the Bluford Series was chosen for the campaign because the challenges the characters go through in the book are similar to the ones her students and their families face.

“It’s a high-interest series because it involves daily things our kids can relate to.”

The 6th graders are reading Lost and Found by Anne Schraff, the first book in the Bluford Series. It centers on the life of Bluford sophomore Darcy Wills, who contends with the return of her long-absent father, the troubling behavior of her younger sister Jamee, and the beginning of her first relationship. Lithonia Middle School 6th grader Malan Dixon said the book teaches her valuable lessons. Dixon, who has been reading since she was five, says she’s fascinated by how the stories unfold.

“Never judge a book by its cover,” she said. “I really like reading it, and I’m looking forward to finishing the whole book.”

The 7th-grade classes are reading The Gun by Paul Langan, the sixth book in the Bluford Series. It centers on a bully seeking revenge on a student who stood up to him.

Lithonia Middle 7th grader Tavarus Jones says reading these books has not only taught him not to bully others “and to treat people how you want to be treated because [the character] used to bully everybody and now everyone wants to bully him,” but it’s also improved his reading skills and confidence.

“Sometimes, I would stumble on words and read like a robot. But now I don’t,” he said.

The Read-A-Book campaign kicked off in 2018, with the school purchasing 5,000 books. The COVID-19 pandemic created a pause for the campaign, but it’s been relaunched this year amid much excitement and anticipation.

Along with the students, all faculty and staff are encouraged to read during extended learning time, and staff members read excerpts from the books during morning announcements. On Friday mornings, students are asked trivia questions over the intercom related to the book title their grade level is reading. If students get the answers right, they are awarded “Bulldog Bucks,” which can be redeemed for prizes at the end of the month.