by Laurie Glover, reading interventionist in Wilson County
At Springdale, we were searching for a way to foster the love of reading, while supporting Wilson County’s goal of 90% in third grade reading proficiently, and building our family-school culture to ensure our families are promoting literacy at home. As the reading interventionist at Springdale, I know the answer is clear and concise: Students must read to become better readers. From my classroom experience as a reading teacher for twenty-five years, I also know read alouds enable students to hear fluent texts and expression, helping them read successfully on their own. Read alouds help students build critical thinking skills, vocabulary, and comprehension. Most importantly, if we are wanting to cultivate a love of reading in our students, we must continuously model our passion for reading, reading to them during school and engaging our parents in reading with them after school.
With these lofty goals in mind, we decided to host a literacy night with teacher read alouds and literacy activities with a special emphasis on families attending with their child. My school’s administrators, Christine Miller and Jennifer Yokom,emphasize that that it takes our students, teachers and families working together to build a successful family-school connection. We each hold an important piece of the puzzle and must do our part to improve literacy by working together.
Our main goal of the night was to promote the love of reading by using engaging books and activities built around a winter theme. Through our Winter ReadingLand, we also wanted students to develop skills and attitudes that would support reading development, while having a fun, interactive night to enjoy with their family. We began planning by forming a literacy committee to share our vision for the night. Each grade level had a teacher representative, so we could have all grade levels presenting books that appealed to all ages. To encourage attendance, we sent home a detailed handout summarizing our 14 literacy stations along with a schedule of snowy events and locations that students were welcomed to enjoy in their pajamas.
Our Winter ReadingLand began with a blizzard of fun activities such as “Make a Mitten” with their handprint, a winter selfie station, door prize registration, and an appearance by Olaf from the movie “Frozen.” During registration time, families ate dinner together while reading in our “Bring a Book, Get a Book” area in the gym and selected three literacy stations that were the most magical for their child to attend. Teachers read their selected book and had an accompanying activity in the thirty minute rotating sessions. Some of the books were: Sneezy the Snowman (students made snow slime), The Hat (students made crazy hats), Three Snow Bears (students made igloos), The Mitten (students “sewed” mittens), and Snowmen at Night (students made snowmen). Other activities during the evening were: Bingo for Books, a Book Tasting area, a Book Talk with a children’s author, and a Winter Wonderland word walk. It was exciting to see families smiling and interacting while their child listened to books on a Friday evening with sweet smiles and proudly completed their activity. As I observed a Bingo for Books session, it was amazing to watch students get so excited to Bingo and go select a book as their prize.
In all, we had over 176 students in attendance and more than 200 adults. Several adults expressed to me that it was a wonderful way to spend time with their child. Later, we sent out a survey to gauge ways to improve the night and received positive feedback. One survey stated, “This is the way you build school culture.” Another survey stated, “We would like to have another literacy night in spring.” Based on our survey results, we had more pre-K-3rd grade students in attendance. As a result, I will focus on ways to encourage our fourth and fifth grade students to attend our next literacy night.
During our Winter ReadingLand, we watched our students have snow much fun with books and engage in a flurry of activities. At Springdale, we are committed to instilling a love of reading in our students and continuously reflecting on how to build lifelong readers. As we watched students exit, we heard laughter, saw smiles, listened to conversations between children and families about books, and observed students leaving with books tucked closely under their arms. What could be a better statement of success than that?