Riverview Elementary recently hosted a week-long celebration of literacy culminating in Family Literacy Night recently.
The event was funded by the school’s Title 1 grant. Riverview Elementary is the only Title 1 school in York School District 4, but there are fifteen other Title 1 schools in York County and 573 statewide for the 2014-15 school year.
Families and kids, many of whom were dressed as characters from their favorite books, shared a meal with teachers and school staff members before heading to the Cardinal Lane Book Fair and spending some face time with local authors E.K. Smith and Kimberly Johnson. Then they chose from 10 literacy sessions designed by teachers, guest authors and special services instructors to help students read at home. Each student went home with a free book.
“Again, we just want to bring literacy alive,” said Title 1 coordinator Kay DeWalt.
“I work closely with the students, staff members and families to coordinate Title 1 events to work under the regulations of our grant that was written by our director of elementary education, Ms. (Ann) Bogan. We try to give parents information that can best support our students at home. We give teachers opportunity to improve learning and we try to meet students where they are to help them grow as learners in reading, writing and other areas of the curriculum.”
Johnson, author of “No Room for Freedom The Story of the Friendship 9,” “The Itty Bitty Frog,” and other kids’ books, engaged parents and students in interactive experiences and techniques to motivate kids to read and write at home.
“We’re talking about literacy, and literacy is such a big deal, not only for kids when they’re in school, but also when they get home,” she said. “Making sure they read a lot when they’re at home is important, because the more children read – it’s really been proven, research wise – the more they gain the skills they need. I’m glad to see our local schools are taking this seriously and making literacy part of not just school time, but also home time, and this proves it here at Riverview.”
Keeping kids interested in reading goes beyond books, the author auhor said.
“I think the way to keep this momentum going about literacy is to understand that literacy just doesn’t mean reading a book. You can read the newspaper, which is awesome; you can read magazines. You can find other things to share,” Johnson said.
Smith (“Alien Dude” and “Attack of Wormzilla”) adds laundry labels and the wrappers of microwave burritos to the list. She advocates reading and thinking out loud around kids to model fluency and critical thinking. Smith encourages helping kids find appropriate books that will interest them and reading books aloud together with kids of all ages.
In addition to providing much-needed family bonding time, the practice grows kids’ minds as they experience richer stories and vocabulary than they would be exposed to when reading independently, Smith said.