What do a rocket ship spacewalk, a book fairy and the gift of time all have in common? The answer is they are all part of the literary tapestry woven together by teachers, parents and volunteers to engage and inspire students to read.
Last night more than 40 families gathered at the school for Literacy Night. With the school’s book fair as the backdrop, the evening was designed for students to demonstrate their literary ownership.
For the first portion of the evening, students were in classrooms grouped together by grade level for a story and craft. Incorporating Scholastic’s book fair theme of preschoolers and kindergartners gathered together in one room for a reading of Claire Freedmans’ "Aliens Love Underpants" and James Christopher Carroll’s "The Boy and the Moon."
The school’s youngest readers were then asked to join their teachers on a spacewalk. After they huddled together on a mat, their teacher asked, "Do you like to use your imagination when you are going to sleep?" Then the mostly four and five year olds combined the stories with their imagination to work on space themed crafts.
Transitioning to the next portion of the evening, vice principal Nick Galante, dressed as a book fairy, along with student alien and fairy helpers, escorted students from the classrooms to the gymnasium where the book fair was open for business.
Inside, parents and children shopped together for books as well as participated in raffles which also benefited classrooms and teachers.
Principal Joanne Pollara said the night was a "group effort" and she was very happy with the turn out. "You can feel the energy," she said as students zoomed around their peers showing off selections they were eager to purchase.
The night itself is a way for the school to highlight how reading and literacy is part of its everyday culture.
PTA President Michelle Cadeau is part of the team running the school’s week long book fair. To kick off the event, Cadeau asked students and teachers to start off the first day of the book fair with five minutes of reading. She described the scene as "a sea of readers" and said she had "never seen everyone so quiet. It was amazing to see."
Barbara Krawiec, the school’s librarian, along with Stephanie Ross, the school’s reading specialist, are members of Pleasantdale’s Literacy committee. Krawiec described the school’s view on literacy as "authentic" and "a way of life." Fostering an environment where students have "a positive connection" to the written word is what Krawiec said is the drive behind her view on promoting literacy.
Ross agreed and said the night was about "empowering the students with a sense of responsibility as well as building a community. They see their teachers here. They see their parents here. They learn reading is pleasurable."
What Krawiec and Ross really want parents and children to see is that reading becomes associated with love.
"The gift of time spent reading together transfers that feeling of love and feeling safe to a love of learning to read. Parents are critical part of the process," said Ross
As evidenced by the exponential growth of literary night at the school — the first one last fall was attended by 12 families and more than 40 attended last night — promoting literacy and community is working at Pleasantdale.
One family even took two buses so they could attend the event. The school’s ESL teacher drove them home. "That was huge," said Ross.
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