Tonawanda News

April 11, 2014

NT event makes reading fun

By Mia Summerson
The Tonawanda News

Tonawanda News — It’s no secret that many children don’t read as much as they should, or that some children find reading boring with all the distractions of the electronic age they grew up in, but what if someone found a way to make reading more exciting? 

That’s the goal for Meadow Elementary School, which for the past seven years, has held an annual Family Literacy Night designed to promote parent involvement in their children’s education as well as inspire a love of reading from an early age. The event was held at the school on Thursday evening. 

“We have books for the kids and readings done by teachers, administrators and others,” said Jodi Minor, Meadow’s literary specialist. “We make it fun, for example the mayor will read a book called ‘The Very Silly Mayor,’ and then they will be asked to draw a picture.”

This year’s theme is “stretch your imagination.” Most of the activities at Family Literacy Night involve the students reading a book and then participating in something creative to reinforce what they just read, like doing a craft or singing a song, Minor said. 

Children were able to purchase books at the book fair which the school organized to take place during Family Literacy Night this year. They were also allowed to select a free book. An introductory presentation was held in the auditorium as the students and their families filed into the school. 

The remainder of the event was broken into three sessions with the children going to classrooms where readers would be presenting different books. 

“(Family Literacy Night) has definitely grown over the years,” said first grade teacher Katie Marren, as children scurried around her to find the perfect book at the book fair. “It connects the classroom to home and gives them a fresh way of looking at reading that also motivates them. We want them to enjoy reading and for it to become a life-long skill.”

Both Minor and Marren agree that the students appreciate having the opportunity to come to the event as well as having a chance to get their parents involved with what they’re doing in class. 

“In this day and age people are busy and it’s hard to fit things in,” Marren added. “This is something fun, a night out. State tests put so much pressure on these kids that they sometimes miss out on the fun part of learning.”

Haylee Kenny, a first grader in Marren’s class, says that she really enjoys coming to Family Literacy Night, this is her second year. She says she got some books about people at the event as well as a non-fiction book about animals. 

“I like reading,” Haylee said. “My favorite book that we read in class is about Spike, he’s a crazy dog that pretends to be other animals.” Haylee, who says she is still learning to read, also thinks she will be a life-long reader. 

North Tonawanda Mayor Robert Ortt says he has been coming to Family Literacy Night for the past few years. He believes that parent involvement in education is directly related to the success of students in school. 

“I love reading ‘The Very Silly Mayor.’ I enjoy the kids and they ask great questions,” Ortt said. “It’s great to see parents bring their kids out and encourage them to read.” 

The event is focused solely on providing family fun and promoting the importance of reading. The school does not raise any funds for the event and the staff comes in on their own time to run it. 

“We do it for the families, it’s just a fun family event to get kids interested in reading and learning.” Minor said. “It makes reading exciting for them.” 

Contact reporter Mia Summerson at 693-1000, ext. 4313.The