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Road Trips Are Reading Trips for Lake Stevens Siblings

Saho (left) and Shogo Yamashita settle in with their books during a recent visit to the Lake Stevens Library. Both children were gold-medal winners in the Sno-Isle Libraries Explore Summer reading program, even continuing their reading logs while in summer school in Japan. Photo courtesy of Sno-Isle Libraries

From Snohomish Library

Saho and Shogo Yamashita are used to reading on the road.

The Lake Stevens brother and sister know that the trip to Kent for Shogo’s gymnastics lessons will take a good 90 minutes – each way – so they grab at least one book a piece for ride. “We read the whole way there and back,” said Saho, 11, and a sixth-grader at North Lake Middle School.

However, reading on the road took on a whole new meaning this summer when the family took a trip to Kobe, Japan that included a month-long summer school stint. “The school is for Japanese children born abroad and whose parents want them to have a Japanese language and cultural experience,” said Hiroko Yamashita, the kids’ mom.

On this trip, the children did two languages and two cultures at the same time. “We took our books from the library and reading logs with us to Japan,” Saho said. “We went to school in Japanese and then read in English.”

The reading logs were part of Sno-Isle Libraries Explore Summer program, which receives funding support from the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation. Participants who logged 10 hours of reading over the summer received bronze medals while 25 hours brought a silver medal. Readers who racked up 50 hours were gold-medal winners.

“Saho and Shogo easily surpassed the gold-medal mark,” said Yoko Cailotto, a staff member at the Lake Stevens Library.

Finding the Lake Stevens Library turned out to be a stroke of luck for the family that has been in Lake Stevens for less than a year after moving from Chicago.

“We had to leave behind most of our books,” Hiroko Yamashita said. “We were very excited to find the library here. (Saho and Shogo) like to read; they would rather read than do anything else.”

Ironically, it wasn’t books that first made them aware of the library.

“Saho saw a flyer for a Minecraft class I was teaching,” Cailotto said of the popular virtual-world video game. “Then, she got here and saw this is a library.”

That discovery turned into regular visits and, this past summer, the Explore Summer reading challenge.

“The reading logs helped me find more books and made me want to read more,” Saho said. “I’m still reading more than before, even though the logs are over.”

Shogo increased his reading pace, too, and both children are generally reading two to three books at a time. “I just pick the one that interests me most at the time,” Shogo said.

In school, both Saho and Shogo gravitate toward math as a favorite subject. Saho, says she likes graphing equations while 8-year-old Shogo, a third-grader at Sunnycrest Elementary, says he likes “times-ing.”

Saho said she does see differences between Chicago, Lake Stevens and Japan.

“School is very different,” she said. “In PE in Japan, they run a lot and there’s lots of testing. There are pools and everyone must take swimming lessons. Here, there are a lot of games.”

She said the weather is different, too. “Chicago has lots of snow and wind and the summer is short and hot,” she said. “Here, it is rainy and the summer is not hot.

The one thing that is the same no matter where they are is reading. While Saho finds it easier to read English and Shogo says reading Japanese goes a bit better for him, reading is the constant.

“We read as soon as we get up,” Shogo said. “If I’m bored, I read.”

Note: Sno-Isle Libraries serves 728,745 residents in Snohomish and Island counties through 21 community libraries, online services and Library on Wheels. This summer, 107,870 participated in reading logged this summer by all participants, and had 4,217 Bronze medal winners (10 hours of reading), 1,965 Silver medal winners (25 hours of reading) and 1,449 Gold medal winners (50 hours of reading).

More information can be found at www.sno-isle.org.

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The North American Post is a community newspaper that celebrates Japanese culture in the Greater Seattle area. Founded by 1st generation Japanese-Americans in 1902, the publication is one of the oldest minority-owned newspapers in the region. Today, with bilingual articles in English and Japanese, the publication connects readers with diverse cultural backgrounds to Seattle’s Japanese community. Our articles include local news, event calendars, restaurant reviews, Japanese cooking recipes, community interviews, and more.