GLOVERSVILLE — Students at Kingsborough Elementary School imagined the places they can go by harnessing the power of reading on Monday when community members visited classrooms to read to students during Read Across America Day.
The National Education Association’s Read Across America Day is held annually to coincide with the birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss on March 2, celebrating reading and promoting literacy through activities and events to make reading fun.
Kingsborough has been inviting community members into the pre-K through second-grade school to read to students for Read Across America Day for several years.
“It helps students see the importance of reading as well as getting to meet different members of the community that normally they wouldn’t have the chance to meet,” explained Principal Trisha Bobowski. “I think every year it gets bigger and better. We have a great group of people that want to come every year to read to our kids.”
Students throughout the building cheerfully circled up on classroom reading rugs to take in stories read by local elected officials, officers of the court, law enforcement and emergency services personnel, pageant winners, members of Union College’s Dutchmen hockey team, school district administrators, performers, a pirate and Finn the amazing reading dog.
“I think it’s more of a benefit to me than to anyone else, because I really enjoy how kids react to good books,” said Mayor Vincent DeSantis who has participated in Read Across America as a guest reader for the past few years.
DeSantis aimed to spark the students’ imaginations while reading “If I Ran the Circus” by Dr. Seuss.
“When I see that they’re really engaged I just feel like it’s kind of opening a door for them,” said DeSantis.
A few classrooms away local singer/songwriter Sawyer Fredericks drew students in while reading “If You Give a Moose a Muffin” by Laura Numeroff before performing a few songs and answering questions.
“I enjoy bringing something that the kids enjoy, seeing kids happy is really fun for me,” said Fredericks who has participated in Read Across America at local schools for the past several years. “I’m happy to do it. I like doing things in my local area, it makes me feel a part of the community.”
Fredericks pointed to the importance of storytelling in his music and the ability of reading to instill a love for stories in children.
Down the hall school counselor Luann Bulman and Finn the amazing reading dog showed students that even dogs love books while reading “If You Give a Dog a Donut” by Laura Numeroff.
Bulman normally brings therapy dog Finn, who is registered through Therapy Dogs International, to school with her on Fridays and on special occasions to interact with students.
Bulman said participating in Read Across America was a fun opportunity to share her and Finn’s love of reading with students. Finn sometimes serves as a non-judgmental reading partner for students to help kids build confidence by reading aloud to the attentive listener.
“He loves it, he really does,” said Bulman. “He’s great, kids love him.”
Miss Fulton County Outstanding Teen Lexi Dutcher said she “loved all of the kids” and enjoyed the opportunity to encourage students to feel comfortable around others by demonstrating her own confidence while reading aloud in keeping with her platform of dancing towards better health centered on building self-confidence through activities.
“I really love speaking to children to tell them to have confidence,” said Dutcher. “They were really interactive about the books that I read, each page they had a question about something in the book.”
To keep Kingsborough students excited about reading, Bobowski is encouraging students to meet reading challenges through the end of the month as part of a schoolwide Bingo game.
Students can win a prize by completing five challenges to mark off corresponding squares across their Bingo card. Students who complete all challenges on the card will have a chance to win a larger prize. Challenges like reading to a pet or a family member can be completed at home while others can be completed at school, giving every child a chance to win.
“I know the kids all want to participate,” said Bobowski.
If at least 85 percent of the school participates in the reading challenge students will earn the ultimate prize, the opportunity to throw water balloons at their principal one day this spring. A prize Bobowski is confident her students will claim.
“They found out about that today and all were cheering,” she laughed. “I feel there will be water balloons thrown at me later on.”
Ashley Onyon covers the city of Gloversville, FMCC and HFM BOCES. She can be reached at email@example.com.