Building the joy of reading, one block at a time


ROBERTSDALE, Alabama — Robertsdale Elementary School librarian Devon Bloch takes the phrase “building blocks of learning” very seriously.

As an incentive for the more than 1,100 students from kindergarten through sixth grade who pass through her program each day, Bloch came up with idea to use Legos.

“I’ve seen Legos used as an incentive with other programs, but I’ve never seen it used as a reading incentive,” Bloch said. “The idea just kind of came to me.”

A native of Loxley and a graduate of Robertsdale High School, Bloch received a bachelor’s degree in K-6 and special education and a master’s degree in library science from the University of South Alabama.

She served as a special education teacher at RES for the last six years and was tapped as the new school librarian over the summer following the retirement of longtime RES library Sandra Sawyer.

Over the summer, her husband, Taylor, built a board which hangs just inside the door to the entrance of the library. Hundreds of Legos were also donated to be used in the program, Bloch said.

For each book the students read, they take one Lego and place it on the board, Bloch said.

“They were all so excited when I announced to them what we were doing,” she said. “When we had open house, many of the students were showing the board to their parents and explaining it to them.”

And the response has been overwhelming.

“The students operate on the honor system, so there’s really no way to gauge how many Legos are on the board,” Bloch said.

But the number of blocks on the board is easily in the thousands with the entire board almost covered and students are now placing blocks on top of other blocks.

Bloch said by far the most popular among the students are graphic novels.

“They look really thick but they’re actually very easy to read,” Bloch said. “I have been trying to get the students to read more challenging books, but as long as they’re reading and they’re excited about reading, I’m excited.”

Bloch said she has discussed ways to modify the program following the Christmas break, such as expanding the board or having her husband build another board.

“Maybe we could have the students start taking a Lego off for every book they read and see how fast we can clear the board,” she said. “We’ll see.”