Plenty of students at Sage Creek Elementary know that Picabo Street's favorite book is "The Other Side of the Mountain" - apropos for a gold medal skier.
They also know that when he's not coaching football, BYU's LaVell Edwards likes putting his nose into any historical novel or legal thriller.What's more, they can tell you that Utah Attorney General Jan Graham enjoys curling up with "The Cat in the Hat" and "Green Eggs and Ham" while Gov. Mike Leavitt considers "Where the Red Fern Grows" a real page-turner.
Students have learned these arcane tidbits thanks to a set of trading cards created by the school's PTA to promote reading.
Resembling glossy sports cards, "Dragon Reading Cards" feature the pictures of celebrities as well as local role models, including members of the school's faculty, with the caption, "I'm a Reader." Emblazoned on the back of each card is the name of the subject, his or her favorite book and a quote about the importance of reading.
Other cards present the covers of award-winning children's literature like "Make Way for Ducklings," "Sounder" and "Daniel Boone," with information about each on the flip side.
The program is the brainchild of Sage Creek PTA president Debra Ward and individual development commissioner Jill Finley. "We were looking for a motivational thing to kick off our emphasis this year on reading," said Finley, who did much of the legwork to make the cards a reality.
"We wanted something the kids would like. We asked, `What do they love?' " The answer: Trading cards.
So Finley contacted a number of public figures to request their participation in the program. Among those who agreed include members of the U.S. Ski and Snowboarding teams, Ballet West and the Utah Symphony, enabling her to put together a diverse cross-section of people.
In all, Finley created 108 different cards. She then made 300 copies of each at a cost of $2,500. "It was harder than I thought," Finley said.
She also set up various photo shoots with folks of local interest, including a dentist, an artist, a firefighter, a police officer and athletes at Springville High.
Students acquire the cards every month by completing a list of reading requirements, which are signed off by their parents. Fourth-grader Hannah Silvey earned a card for reading a book upside down. Fellow fourth-grader Justin Brooks read a book to his little brother. Another listed activity was reading in a tent with a flashlight for 20 minutes.
The cards appear to be a hit at the school. Ward said of the 500 students who attend Sage Creek, almost every one has at least one card. Even second-grade teacher Natalie Bateman, who is on one of the cards, is collecting them.
Teachers distribute cards at random to students, which means not all students have the same cards. The PTA has helped organize trading sessions, before and after school, for students to swap their cards.
Ward said that despite the notable people included in the set of cards, the most sought-after cards are of the ones with whom they are most familiar. "The older kids like to collect cards of the teachers they've had," she said.
Ward hopes that the true purpose of the cards is not lost on students. "Reading is a mind-set," she said. "It helps kids realize that reading is not just what your teacher assigns you at school. It is a tool for information-gathering. It's helped my family a lot. Hopefully, reading awareness is going up here."
Like the cards she helped produce, Finley has become a popular figure around the school. "Kids know me as `The Card Lady,' " she said.