Do you want to get students excited about reading nonfiction? Invite some lizards to school.

Twice in the past two years, Lunenburg Elementary School has invited creatures that include reptiles and canines to visit students. The ulterior motive, of course, is to get them to read all sorts of books about dogs, lizards, mushers, snakes, and even alligators.

Reptiles on the Move was the first group to inspire Lunenburg students last spring. After weeks of reading, kids were actually able to meet, touch, and hold many of the creatures mentioned in their books.

The influence that this visit had on these students has been long lasting. Cheryl Miles’s third/fourth grade classroom now has a new member, a tangerine-spotted gecko named Lizzie.

“Both the classroom teacher and the principal saw how inspired the kids were with the reptiles and saw a benefit to purchasing this little guy and all his necessities,” said parent and CLiF Community Literacy Grant coordinator, Kat Colby.

The thing that is really exciting about this new classmate is that the kids are now asking to learn more about Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India-their Geckos native habitat.

A far cry from the reptile family, sled dogs and mushers were the inspiration for reading nonfiction this winter in Lunenburg. A visit from the Muddy Paws Sled Dog Kennel, including two of their mushers and four of their furry friends – Shorty, Mowgli, Susie, and Ford – had kids reading fiction and nonfiction books about mushing, sled dogs, and sled dog racing for weeks before the visit.

Studies show that reading nonfiction books provides an increased opportunity to learn new concepts and vocabulary, as well as broadens a child’s views about the world around them.

When kids become invested and truly interested they become motivated – and the questions begin to flow. They jump in on figuring out how best way to answer the questions and tend to remember the answers too, because of the hands-on experience and interest level.

What child will in Ms Miles’s classroom will ever forget Lizzie and where she came from?

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