BROOKSVILLE — Eastside Elementary School is "Raising Readers."
That's the name of a reading encouragement program that awards an "I'm a Great Reader" T-shirt — donated by sponsor Blair Hensley, owner of Coney Island Drive Inn in Brooksville — to any student who reads 25 or more books.
On top of that, each student in a class who reads the most books during a particular month receives a McDonald's Happy Meal for lunch, compliments of local McDonald's manager Jennifer Prado, who is sponsoring the program for this school year.
To qualify, students must complete report forms after reading books. The younger children have the option of writing their summaries or drawing them. First- and second-grade children write overall summaries. Third- through fifth-graders are expected to provide more detail.
The school also requests parent involvement. Parents read to the younger children and have to sign the forms for children of all ages.
"It has turned into a very healthy competition," said Title I parent educator Beth Zacharias.
Students can find books in Zacharias' Title I Family Center, and they keep the books they select. Books are donated from "all different resources, from everywhere," Zacharias said, including parents, other schools and the school library.
The program appears to be having success in encouraging reading.
"Parents are calling me and telling me (students are) reading. They're reading books at home," Zacharias said. "The whole goal of the program is to get books in the home."