Most agree that reading is one of the most important things learned in grade school, but once adults, many people lose their love of the written word.
So, to help encourage the love of reading at as young an age as possible, Fort Rucker Primary School participated in Read Across America Week March 3-7, celebrating the life of Dr. Seuss to encourage children to use their imaginations and love getting lost in a story.
“Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading,” said Rhonda Sullivan, kindergarten teacher, “We have them participate in activities which bring reading excitement. We just want to get the kids excited about reading.”
Special activities throughout the week included: large-group-motor-skills-gym activities based on Dr. Seuss’ books, literacy activities, art activities, writing and journal activities, and students brought in their favorite books and came dressed as Dr. Seuss characters or a favorite storybook character.
All of the activities planned were curriculum standards based, with an assessment on rhyming words, said Sullivan.
“It is easy for the kids to read Dr. Seuss books because of the rhyming. Once they learn a word, they can expand on it by changing the beginning or ending sounds. So, by this time of the year, many of them can read his books,” said Sullivan.
Around 30 volunteer readers also came during the week to show that reading is important and fun. Several of the readers included Fort Rucker garrison leadership.
“Motivating children to read is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school,” said Neva Martin, kindergarten teacher. “It’s always fun to have guest readers, too, because the children just get to see reading in a whole new light.”
The children were read around three books a day for five days, but sometimes, depending on visitors, it was even more.
“It’s great to have parents and Fort Rucker leadership come to read to the students, because many of them came in costume and read their favorite book,” said Sullivan. “We have great parental support, the Dr. Seuss gym center stations are all being manned by volunteering parents. So, without them, we couldn’t have done that, and that would have been a shame because the children really love that part.”
Dr. Seuss books inspire creativity, according to Martin, something the children also benefit from because it encourages them to love reading.
“The children learn to make up nonsense words through rhymes because that is what he did when he made up stories or characters. And seeing that an adult did that encourages them to think out of the box as well and use their imagination,” said Martin.
All year long, the children are taught reading skills, with last week acting as a culminating activity for the children to see how their hard work paid off.
“It teaches them that all the things we learned during the school year have meaning,” said Martin. “They grow and learn so much from this week and each year they get to build on the year before. They might see something from a book they read in kindergarten, but not fully understand it until first grade, and they have a feeling of accomplishment because they can see themselves that they have learned. They begin to realize it is a skill they need and will carry the rest of their lives.
“We want them to realize that it’s fun and that stories take you places,” Martin added.