“Reading is the single most important thing that we do,” the author of “Pete the Cat” recently told students at Mountain View Elementary School.

Eric Litwin, a former metro-area teacher, set out to write engaging books, like “Pete the Cat” and “Groovy Joe,” to get the students to love to read so they succeed in life.

“If you don’t love learning, you will read less, and it won’t be as powerful,” the educator turned- writer explained.

The Mountain View students listened and sang along as the guitar-toting author read and sang from some of the students’ favorites. At least one student brought his own Pete the Cat along for the performance.The author’s visit was part of the school’s literacy initiative, which includes a PTA parent representative dedicated to literacy.

“One of the things we have really focused on this year is getting the reluctant readers to pick up books,” explained Mountain View media specialist Jami O’Connor.

In addition to storytime with the students, visits from famous authors, like Eric Litwin, O’Connor said she has also stocked the media center with books that most interest students. Non-fiction books are some of their favorites along with graphic novels, which she pairs with a traditional novel.

She ties in the storytime in the media center with what the students are learning in the classroom.

Students are now able to use Flipgrid to record up to a 60-second review on the book they are reading. Although they started the student video-reviews earlier in the year, O’Connor hopes they will have a media center full by the end of the year. The use of Flipgrid is an example of how schools across the District are transforming learning for students with the help of the Cobb Instructional Technology Team.

Mountain View, which ranked in the top 5 of elementary schools in Georgia on a recent state assessment, launched a half a million-minute reading challenge this year to get students even more excited about reading outside of school. Well before the half-year mark, students had already tallied more than 267,248 reading minutes.

“They are really loving it,” the Mountain View media specialist added.

The students with the highest reading totals got a chance to sit down to lunch with the “Pete the Cat” author.

O’Connor and Litwin both agree that literacy is crucial to the future success of students. That’s why Litwin writes books, and why O’Connor and all the educators at Mountain View work to develop their students’ desire to pick up a book and read, read, read.

“I love to see that little light bulb go off when they are confident in their reading. When you get them to love reading, their writing improves, their overall confidence improves. They feel like they are more important,” O’Connor said. “I want to see books in their hands.”