The following was written by Sydney Chun, special to the Outlook.
William Velayos, a 5th-grader at Valentine Elementary read 110 books over the course of the past school year, breaking the previous school record of 102. Fifth-grade students at Valentine Elementary can earn a certificate for reading 20 books, or a trophy for reading 30. Velayos went above and beyond, especially considering that students who read more than 50 books receive the same reward as those who read exactly 50.
He set a goal for himself and worked ambitiously throughout the year to accomplish it. Velayos had morning reading time during school, and his teacher, Denise Lindahl, read to the class at the end of the day as well. Velayos’ reading project was self-motivated and independent, but his mom, Angela Lin, encouraged him throughout.
“He would say, ‘Mom, I need to go to a bookstore, even though we’re out of town,’” she said. “So we bought him at least a dozen books so he could read during vacation, even during Christmas break. He was really self-disciplined.”
Velayos, who often borrowed books from the Crowell Public Library, right next door to his school, read books that were about 150 to 300 pages long. And he proved to be a prolific reader: He spent one entire day reading nine books.
Velayos had to write a book report for each book, which included a summary, a description of the main character’s qualities, and how he liked it.
His favorite book is “Where the Red Fern Grows,” by Wilson Rawls. “It’s a really good book,” he said. “I liked the two dogs because they worked together really well. Mrs. Lindahl read it aloud to us.”
Velayos is a well-rounded and creative individual who is interested in a variety of activities. He enjoys writing his own stories in English class, playing piano and solving Common Core math problems. His mom describes him as a “scholar-in-progress.”
She also thinks his vocabulary has expanded and his reading and language skills have improved as a result of his voracious reading. Velayos speaks four languages and wants to be a lawyer, like his dad, when he grows up.
“He can engage in conversation with students and adults and asks pertinent questions and shares his knowledge readily,” Lindahl said. “Also, his writing process involves continual editing and revising. He is always striving to make the work better.”
Besides being an avid reader and excellent student, Velayos has a passion for baseball. He is in his third year as an All-Star baseball player in the San Marino Little League.
Velayos plans on continuing to read books during the summer as he prepares to enter 6th grade at Huntington Middle School.