Their story is a page-turner

Posted: April 26, 2013

The Winchester Star

Frederick Douglass Elementary School second-grader Sarina Parikh and her brother, third-grader Neil Parikh, have read more books than any other students in the reading program in Winchester elementary schools. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)

WINCHESTER — Second-grader Sarina Parikh and her brother, third-grader Neil, spend most of their spare time reading.

They read in the car on the way to school and while they’re getting out of the car. They read during breaks at tennis practice and while they’re waiting on each other at the library. They’ve even been told to put their books away in class.

“Anytime I have free time, I read,” Neil said.

The brother-sister duo, who have read all seven Harry Potter novels, can finish a 500-page book in three days.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that the Frederick Douglass Elementary School siblings are the most prolific readers the city division’s four elementary schools have seen in the past decade.

“It’s rare that we have two kids who love reading so much,” said reading specialist Gretchen Homan.

The students select books at their targeted reading level or higher and earn points based on a volume’s length and difficulty. A 250- to 300-page book is worth 15 to 20 points.

After reading a book, students must take a comprehension quiz. If they score 70 percent or less, then it doesn’t count toward their point total.

Students earn a visor and stars when they reach certain point milestones.

As of Wednesday, Sarina had 927 points and Neil had 902 — about 600 more points than their nearest competitors.

Their goal is to reach 1,000 points by the end of the school year, and they have 32 more days to do it.

“We just think it’s fun,” Sarina said.

But she also admits the competition between the two can be fierce.

Last year, Neil earned 478 points as a second-grader.

“My goal at the beginning was to beat Neil’s old record,” said Sarina, who ended up smashing it.

“These guys are not only star readers but great kids and good students, and we love having them here,” said Principal Stephanie Downey.

Neither Neil nor Sarina knows where they acquired their love for reading; they say their parents don’t read as much as they do.

“If they were as crazy as me and Sarina, we would miss breakfast and lunch,” Neil said.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at