Yakima girl wins national award for reading 21,646 pages in Braille
Yakima fourth-grader Maegan Weiler read 21,646 pages of Braille to win the National Federation of the Blind's Braille Readers are Leaders Contest.
YAKIMA — They ran out of ribbons way before Maegan Weiler stopped reading.
Maegan, who just finished the fourth grade at Ahtanum Valley Elementary School, read 21,646 pages of Braille to win the National Federation of the Blind's Braille Readers are Leaders Contest.
The 10-year-old, who started losing her sight before her first birthday and has been totally blind for about three years, favors Nancy Drew and "Black Stallion" books. She read so many of them that the contest, which rewards milestones with ribbons, couldn't keep up with her. Its top ribbon was for 12,000 pages.
"She was saying when she got it that they need a 20,000-page ribbon," said Mike Magruder, the Braille paraprofessional at Ahtanum Valley, who prepares reading material for Maegan using a Braille translation machine.
Maegan technically won in the contest's fourth- and fifth-grade age group, but nobody in any group even came close. The only other contestant who read more than 18,000 Braille pages in a single school year was a Texan in the ninth- through 12th-grade division.
It's an accomplishment Maegan's particularly proud of because she worked so hard to learn Braille during the past two years.
"I didn't want to learn Braille in kindergarten," she said. "It took forever for me to get up to this."
She knew the Braille alphabet and not much more in the second grade, when Magruder started working with her. Now she's reading above grade level.
"Mr. Magruder doesn't let her slack," Maegan's mother, Shelly Weiler, said. "We expect a lot of Maegan."
Though Maegan admitted to sometimes getting frustrated or even mad at Magruder, she enjoyed working with him on the contest and she's proud of how far she's come. Her proudest moment?
"When I learned how many pages I read," she said.
Well, that and beating her best friend, Abby Rhodes, in a different reading contest. Maegan scored 425 points in Ahtanum Valley's accelerated reading program. Abby, who is not blind, finished with 420 points.
"They were in competition all year," Magruder said.
But they're still best friends, Maegan said. They run together, play on the monkey bars and the rock wall and dig in dirt piles.
"There's also a creek, and we find rocks and throw rocks in there," she said.
Just normal kid stuff, really, because despite her blindness, Maegan is just a normal kid — albeit a bright one who loves to read. She wants to be a lawyer and eventually a judge.
"So I can be nosy," she said.
That's why Maegan likes Nancy Drew books, too.
"It's kind of like a puzzle that you don't have to put together with puzzle pieces," she said during an interview on the last morning of school last week.
Then the bell rang, Maegan yelled "recess!" and ran out to join her friends.