Student Choice Leisure Reading Novels

Moderation state
Grant Applicant
Jill Zapata
School Site
Grant Category
Grant Date

Sierra High School recognizes that this grant request is a repeat of one requested previously. However, the need for students to choose their own books and the need to replenish our library does not diminish over time. As our schools are returning to some sense of normalcy after the craziness of Covid, the need for student chosen novels seems even higher. Many students have not engaged in a lot of personal reading in the last few years and looking for those "hook" novels seems to be more paramount than ever before.


The Leisure Reading program is a strong component in the overall development of Sierra High School students’ literacy skills. The role of reading everyday is a major factor in students building overall academic success and the opportunity to build literacy skills daily, in an non evaluative manner, increases students skills across the curriculum. At Sierra High School, all students read daily for 20 minutes in a novel of their own choice.  The purpose of this grant is to fund the purchase of novels students choose to read during our daily leisure reading. The main objectives that develop from the leisure reading program include students building stamina, increasing their range and use of reading strategies and acquiring an identity as a reader. These objectives directly correlate with the students increasing literacy successes in our content area classrooms.  When students can choose the novels they want to read, have time to read independently with no additional requirements, and share their reading experiences with their peers, their reading successes increase. These successes in turn allow students to have more successes as they interact with content area texts as well. 

We are a small school with no traditional library access. Students often take on the role of curating books themselves and if anything, as students become more engaged readers, the need for more diverse and challenging texts arise.

Benefits of Program

Sierra High School is a unique blend of diverse learners. The school serves students with special needs, english language learners, students from low socio economic backgrounds and students with difficult social emotional situations. With the expectation that the Leisure Reading program is implemented school wide, all students benefit from their increasing literacy skills as they read a novel of their own choice daily for 20 minutes. In addition to building stronger literacy skills in our school, we see this leisure reading program as having impact in our communities as well. As students take home novels they have chosen to read, they share them with their families and communities. We believe these interactions tie strongly to the district's vision of being an All American City and participating in the campaign for grade level reading.  These leisure reading novels are consumable by nature, seeing that they have so many interactions, but the impact they provide to our overall school community is long lasting. 

Success of Program

Upon enrolling in Sierra High School, students often report they have not successfully completed a novel in five or six years, or in some occasions, ever. A crucial component to this lack of success is often that students don't find books that interest them. The staff works diligently to find novels that interest our student body and sometimes that requires reading off the district's traditional canon of required novels. Once a student finds a book they like, they report finishing it independently within the first month or two of attending Sierra High School. Students who have attended Sierra High School for more than a year or two often report that they finish between 4-5 novels a year independently. As we see our school reading community grow, with students taking a leadership role in talking about what books they like, asking for what books they want to read and sharing their reading experiences, we see our students develop and grow as readers. This in turn supports the learning in our content area classrooms as students' dispositions towards reading increases positively.


Our school wide leisure reading program is built on different tenets, beginning with reading daily for 20 minutes. Students are encouraged to choose books they wish to read and there are no additional assessments or requirements for the task. Student choice is a major part of the success of the program and eventually leads to students viewing themselves as readers.

Can you share this grant with your grade level or subject team?

This grant supports all students in all grade and subject levels of Sierra High School as the expectation is that all students read across the school every morning. Students read in their biology and math classes in addition to their English classes.

As a small, alternative high school, Sierra High does not have access to a traditional school library. Our school community must work hard to provide availability and access to novels for our students. Because we support student voice as they choose the novels they wish to read, we sometimes have to veer from more readily available district texts. While there are funds and school resources available for some novels, some of the novels have to be purchased from outside sources. As we build a library for our school and build a community of readers for our students, our books are consumed. Students write in them, students share them after they have finished reading them, different students read them multiple times. There is an ongoing need to replace and supplement the books in our library. The additional funding of this grant allows us to continue building our library while recognizing the consumable nature of these novels and the need for some of these books to be supplemented yearly.

Amount Funded
Individual Budget Items(s)
$1500 - Individual Student Choice Leisure Reading Novels
Other funding sources

There are some limited funds available through Title 1, Measure A and ESL resources.

File Uploads
IMG_2949.jpg (1.69 MB)

Whenever possible, we access local bookstore, Word After Word, Books A Million, Dover Thrift and Amazon for lower costs in publishing and delivery