From classroom trends to school board decisions, Class Act will keep you updated on all the school issues followed by the Star Tribune’s education reporters. Contributors include Alejandra Matos, who covers Minneapolis; Kim McGuire, who covers the west metro; Erin Adler, who covers the south metro; Anthony Lonetree and Libor Jany, who cover St. Paul and the east metro, and Shannon Prather, who cover the north metro.

Farmington elementary school wins reading contest, author visit

Posted by: Erin Adler Updated: May 9, 2014 - 5:57 PM

Sara Drazkowski knows a thing or two about encouraging her students to read. For the second year in a row, her fifth-graders were among the top 100 classes in the country in the Pizza Hut Book-It reading challenge.

To win, they logged more than 130,000 minutes reading.

Their literacy prowess won the entire school a pizza party on Wednesday -- and on top of that, the school was selected at random among the top classes to receive a visit from Jeff Kinney, author of the best-selling "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" books.

"It was kind of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the kids and the staff," Drazkowski said.

Kinney spent the day at Akin Road Elementary, where he spoke to the whole school about his journey to becoming an author.

He told the kids how he had originally wanted to be a comic book artist, but was rejected repeatedly and eventually changed his focus to writing books for young adults.

"He was such an excellent speaker," she said.

Students connected with the theme of his talk: if you don't succeed at first, that's ok -- keep trying and find your passion. And even the youngest kids understood his humor, she said.

He also ate lunch and spent the majority of the day with the fifth grade class, she said. He answered numerous questions and "must have signed a million autographs."

The class got t-shirts and a copy of his latest book, too.

The "Wimpy Kid" series follows the daily trials of Greg Heffley, a less-than-tough middle school boy.

Kids enjoy the books because the things that happen to Greg are so over-the-top that their own lives cannot possibly be as bad as his, Drazkowski said. The books have also been made into a series of movies.

Author Jeff Kinney enjoyed his pizza lunch with Sara Drazkowski's fifth-grade class.

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