|LJMS students promote reading
Read Across America event hits Evergreen
Lawrence E. Jones Middle School students shared their love of reading with the younger set while participating in the national Read Across America program on March 1 at Evergreen Elementary School.
“It was a positive experience. The students were glad for the opportunity to read to the younger students,“ said Michael Adams, an LJMS math instructor who co-organized the event. “They found the students were curious and asked questions about what was read. I think the day encouraged all of the students that participated.”
NEA’s (National Education Association) Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that encourages students in the community to celebrate reading near or on March 2, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.
“Meeting new, little kids…they seemed nice, eighth-grade reader Tage Guillory said. “They were very happy, excited and enthusiastic about this.”
Said Jordan Hartwick, who read for the second straight year, “My favorite part was reading the books to them. I also liked watching them read.”
Mary Denson, veteran instructor at LJMS, co-organized the event and explained placing LJMS students in a balanced manner into cohorts for the Evergreen primary classes (K-2), and talking with LJMS students as a group about expectations on this trip were the main challenges. According to Denson, the activity was free to organize and participate in and an activity that could replicated in many forms on a regular basis she added.
“It was awesome. Students learned that each child is important,” Denson said enthusiastically. “That reading is fun and sharing reading ideas between grade levels is an eye opening experience for both. The younger students also experience an older person taking an interest in them. The middle school student learns it is rewarding to interact with younger students.”
The older students chose appropriate selections to read to the elementary students before attending Read Across America Day. For some, like Guillory, choosing a book was a family matter.
“My little sister helped pick the book ‘Olivia Helps with Christmas,’” said Guillory. “I was hoping to read to my little sister (at school). But I had to read to another class.”
Reading to the younger students definitely has given the eighth-grade students a fresh perspective on the challenges of maintaining attention spans. “I asked them what book they wanted to read. They go over to the magazine section and take out a bunch of magazines!” said a surprised Guillory. “One of them kept looking around…they still understand.”
The Read Across America activity was unique in that the older students walked less than a mile from the middle school to Evergreen in small groups. Upon arrival at the classrooms, each student-reader was then paired with two-to-four younger students to read to.
“It was fun reading to the kids. I liked walking there. I rarely read aloud,” said eighth-grader Frank Telesforo.
Since 1998, the NEA has organized Read Across America with support from more than 50 national nonprofit and association partners. Everyone from schools to libraries, to community centers to churches, to hospitals to bookstores are invited to host local events to celebrate and promote children's reading. NEA’s Read Across America also provides NEA the resources and activities to keep reading on the calendar 365 days a year. According to the NEA, teachers, teenagers, librarians, politicians, actors, athletes, parents, grandparents, and others develop NEA's Read Across America activities to bring reading to children of all ages.