COPPERAS COVE — When Rosa Colon logged on to the World Wrestling Entertainment website, the mother of two had no idea that a simple advertisement could positively alter her children’s education and benefit their school’s library.
But that’s just what happened when her 7-year-old son, Xavier Taclibon, told her he wanted to enter the WrestleMania Reading Challenge.
“I was so shocked to find out he won third place in the contest,” Colon said during the award presentation Friday afternoon at Martin Walker Elementary. “I mean, it was a nationwide competition, and for him to win is just incredible.”
Xavier said he “almost fainted” when he heard about the third-place finish. “I read a whole lot of books but my favorite was called ‘Llama, Llama.’ I read it in English and in Spanish. I want to learn Spanish.”
The Martin Walker Elementary first-grader read more than 350 books, although he admits he lost count after awhile. He was one of almost 50,000 students who read a total of about 100,000 books online as part of the 2014 WrestleMania Reading Challenge at WWEReadingSuperstar.com.
Students were able to read digital children’s books, virtually connect with WWE reading buddies and enter to win a trip to WrestleMania, a school visit from a WWE superstar or book grants for their school.
“I like watching WWE but I love reading better,” Xavier said. “The contest had prizes like meeting the wrestlers and having them come to our school.”
Although he didn’t win the trip or the school visit, he managed to supply something far more important and far-reaching. He won 1,000 books for his school. Martin Walker is one of 10 schools across the United States that received the book grants.
“They are really good titles,” said Librarian Teresa Garrett about the books, adding that she was pleasantly surprised by the prize Xavier won.
Before the start of the competition, Xavier’s usual routine was that of a normal kid: homework, chores and, of course, play time. But during the contest, he’d arrive home and open a laptop to choose which books to read that day — all without any urging from his parents.
His mother and teachers boasted about the huge growth he has shown in his overall reading level, jumping from a first-grade reading level to a fourth-grade level.
“He reads chapter books now,” his mother said. “His little sister, Emili, is in kindergarten and she also entered the contest and her reading improved, too.”