Zenzile Moon Mkhize-Shaw, Rio Vista Elementary first grader, sets reading record

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By Angela Shaw, grandmother
of Zenzile Moon Mkhize-Shaw

I am writing this to advise everyone of an event by a young person that is worth local, if not, national acknowledgement and recognition.

Zenzile Moon Mkhize-Shaw, my granddaughter, and first grader at Rio Vista Elementary School in Toluca Lake, recently set the record for the “most points scored” in the Accelerated Reader program by any first grader in the Los Angeles School District. It has been documented in educational records that she has read 1,586,757 words for the 2016-2017 school year which has resulted in her completing over 130 “chapter books.”

This is unheard of!

Zenzile has completed and passed with high scores, comprehension tests for each book read. She set a goal for the school year to score 100 points, but scored 218.9! Renaissance, the independent monitoring agency of the Accelerated Reader program, acknowledges that there is no record of a first grader ever scoring 200+ points. As a result of her diligence, Zenzile is currently reading at a 6th grade level.

This is an achievement that should be acknowledged for any child, but is more extraordinary because Zenzile is a child of color, who has become, without even realizing it at 7-years-old, a role model for other children of color.

Given the social climate in communities of color where children may have lost a sense of hope for their futures and are constantly bombarded with negative images and comments about the lack thereof, this achievement can offer another ray of brightness for alternative positive recognition.

In an age when kids still strive to be models, rappers and ball players, it’s still “cool” to read, especially when you find books that you love and in which you have an interest. Her parents have encouraged and nurtured her love of reading from literally, infancy. Both are actors and musicians with a side of Graduate Education degrees!

Zenzile’s parents have insured that her life is well rounded and that she still does things all 7-year-olds do, like riding her bike, going swimming and painting her nails with her friends.

Just recently, Zenzile began her second grade year at Burbank Boulevard Elementary School for highly gifted students with her 5-year-old brother Senzo, hot on her heels in loving books and having fun!

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