Spring Valley, Parkwood tackle literacy

Oct. 14, 2013 @ 04:12 PM

Helping to ensure that students are fluent readers, area elementary schools are thinking outside the box to help develop a love of reading.

Fostering a community of readers that includes parents and siblings, two Durham elementary schools are hard at work making reading fun and accessible to all of their students.
Parkwood Elementary held its first Literacy Night of this school year last week, and there was a strong turnout despite the gloomy weather.
Parkwood principal Michelle Bell said that literacy has to be presented to children in a certain manner for them to willing receive it and stick with it.
“They love books,” Bell said of her students. “When they’re young, they’re sponges so they want to read. Even the ones who aren’t that good at reading, they want a book.
“That’s when you have to sell it to them,” she said. “You have to make it exciting. You have to make them want to do it.”
Bell explained that for the January Literacy Night students were given free books if their parents spoke with their teachers first.
“We enticed the children with books,” she said. “But we bought the books based on a student survey so that we bought books that they wanted to read. You can still cover a standard by picking a book they like.”
The Literacy Night coincided with the school’s book fair. Set up in the Parkwood Elementary library, students and parents could peruse the books either before Literacy Night started or after it ended.
Nashana Hawley and her daughter, 9-year-old Tatum Todd, were among the families at Literacy Night. Hawley said that she makes reading a competitive sport.
“If you read this certain number of books then you get to do this or you get to have that,” Hawley explained. “We limit TV time and we read at least 30 minutes a night.”
Hawley said that there isn’t a specific type of book that she requires her daughter to read so she let’s Tatum choose for herself.
“I like reading,” Tatum said. “Sometimes it’s fun because the books are interesting.”
Tatum said that she likes to read comedies and the Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub and Suzanne Williams. Right now she is reading “Belly Up” by Stuart Gibbs for the Battle of the Books competition.
Spring Valley Elementary kicked off its 1 School 1 Book initiative also last week. Hanging over the front interior entrance of the school is a poster promoting the program and the book of choice, “The Indian in the Cupboard” by Lynne Reid Banks.
“This is part community involvement and promoting literacy,” said Spring Valley Principal Barbara Parker. “If we all read a book together as a community, we’re promoting literacy. We want to bring back that whole family spirit of reading together.”
Parker explained that the books were paid for by a grant from Dollar General to help promote literacy.
“We felt like it would be effective if every child had a book and the family was a part of it,” she said. “We wanted something to appeal across grade levels. We knew that there was a movie too so at the end we’ll have a movie night and the children have to write a comparison between the book and the movie.”
Gabriella Herrera-Mendez, 7, came to pick up her copy of the book with her family and admitted behind a shy smile that she enjoys reading.
“It’s kind of fun to discover books,” she said.