Skip Navigation LinksCherry Creek School District > District News > Sunrise Elementary's Newbery Club continues to attract young readers
Print this page

Sunrise Elementary's Newbery Club continues to attract young readers

newberythumb.jpgThe group of dozens of elementary school students fidgeted, squealed and screamed.

They watched intently as Susie Isaacs, the librarian at Sunrise Elementary School, prepped for an announcement that held plenty of drama, gravity and importance. She stood in front of a mobile bookshelf wrapped in bright construction paper, and the group of dozens of students eyed the object hungrily.

After what seemed like hours, Isaacs finally simulated the sound of a drum roll and gave the students the green light to attack. They rushed in and tore apart the wrapping paper with all the fervor of kids unwrapping birthday presents.

These students weren't looking for the latest video games or electronic toys. They knew that a selection of brand new books was waiting for them under the wrapping paper, and they couldn't be happier. It made sense, considering that the fourth- and fifth-graders assembled in the Sunrise library on Oct. 23 were all members of the school's Newbery Club, a group of more than 50 students who are dedicated to reading, discussing and recognizing eligible entries for this year's Newbery Award, America's premiere prize for children's literature.

"It's a very popular club," said Isaacs, who detailed the plots, characters and authors of titles like "Fish In a Tree," "The Thing About Jellyfish," "Full Cicadia Moon" and "Lost in the Sun" after the students had unwrapped the latest arrivals. "Every year, attendance has gone up quite a bit … The demand, the excitement is still there."  

Isaacs first came up with the idea for the club two years ago after meeting a member one of the 15 members of the Newbery Committee, an organization that annually offers rewards for the best new children's literature. She was intrigued by the process behind the Association for Library Service to Children's award, which kicked off in 1922 and recognizes "the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children." Isaac saw the need for more direct feedback from young readers.

"The heart of it is that we're bringing kids together for no other reason than they love books ... We're bringing out all of their critical thinking skills."

-- Susie Isaacs, Sunrise Elementary School librarian

That was the genesis of the school's Newbery Club, and thanks to partnerships with the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation and other community partners, Isaacs found a way to provide students with the latest nominees for the coveted literary prize. That's no easy feat, considering the titles are brand new and often come in the expensive, hardcover format. But thanks to grants from the Foundation and from community supporters, Isaacs found a way to fulfill a specific mission.

"The heart of it is that we're bringing kids together for no other reason than they love books," Isaacs said. "We're bringing out all of their critical thinking skills."

The impact of the grants from the Foundation and from private donors was easy to see as the Newbery Club members gathered to discuss their latest reads and choose titles to take home for Fall Break. It didn't go unnoticed by Margie Adams, a Cherry Creek Schools Foundation Board member who was on hand to take in the excitement. She saw firsthand how the Foundation's grant program is making a serious impact for students across the district.


"These kids are so excited. They were rushing after those books like they were toys," Adams said, more than a little awed by the impact of good books on the Sunrise students. "We can hear stories about our grants, but you don't get the real impact until you see the reaction … You can see why Susie gets so much energy from these students."

Indeed, Isaacs was quick to point out that the Friday meetings of the Newbery Club are often the best part of her week. That effect will only intensify as the students make their way through the list of nominees and send their feedback to the Newbery Award officials before they select the official winner for the year.

Students like Taytum Borgman, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Sunrise, take their responsibilities seriously. She was eager to dig in to "The Boys Who Challenged Hitler," a book by Phillip Hoose about a group of teenagers in Denmark who find ways to resist the Nazi occupation of their country during World War 2. Borgman joined the Newbery Club two years ago, and she insisted that she won't give up her affiliation when she heads to middle school next year.

"There are new books all the time," she noted. "I'm going to make my own Newbery Club next year."

Posted 11/10/2015 2:19 PM
Copyright © Cherry Creek School District #5, 4700 S. Yosemite Street, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 | 303-773-1184
Cherry Creek School District No. 5 does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability in admission to its programs, services or activities, in access to them, in treatment of individuals, or in any aspect of their operations. The lack of English language skills shall not be a barrier to admission or participation in the district’s activities and programs. The Cherry Creek School District No. 5 also does not discriminate in its hiring or employment practices. This notice is provided as required by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination Act of 1975, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Questions, complaints, or requests for additional information regarding these laws may be forwarded to the designated compliance officer: District Compliance Officer or directly to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Region VIII, Federal Office Building 1244 North Speer Blvd., Suite #310, Denver, CO 80204.

You are now leaving the Cherry Creek School District (CCSD) portal. Please note that CCSD does not control nor can it guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness, completeness, or appropriateness of any content contained on web sites and/or pages outside of the official CCSD portal. The information or opinions contained on these web sites and/or pages do not necessarily represent the views of the CCSD.

With access to the internet comes the availability of material that may not be of educational value or appropriate for students. While at school, CCSD has taken precautions to restrict access to inappropriate or harmful web sites. However, on the internet it is impossible to control all materials and limit all access to information that has no educational value. CCSD firmly believes that the valuable information and the interaction available on the internet far outweigh the possibility that users may procure material that is not consistent with the educational goals of CCSD.