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Midvale Journal

Read Across America celebration stretches beyond day at Copperview Elementary

Apr 22, 2021 09:27AM ● By Julie Slama

Students read together during Copperview Elementary’s Read Across America celebration. (Jenna Landward/Copperview Elementary)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

There weren’t any red-and-white striped hats worn by cats or community guest readers making a surprise visit, but Copperview Elementary found other ways to celebrate Read Across America.

March 2, the day which was once focused on the birthday of the popular children’s author, Dr. Seuss, has pivoted to focus on more diverse children’s books during the month-long national reading month.

At Copperview, the day was stretched to a week and literature included more diversity that “focuses on equity and reflects our students,” said Jenna Landward, Copperview community school facilitator.

“With COVID-19, our celebration looks different than it has in the past,” she said. “Instead of giving books away during ‘Pastries and Parents,’ we sent home a new book for every child with a literacy kit. These are awesome books; we realized if we wanted to instill the love of reading, we needed to invest in some good, diverse books. These are books that are inclusive and reflective of our school community.”

She said they used parent engagement funds and contributions from United Way of Salt Lake to purchase a number of books from Read Across America’s website. 

Their literacy kit also included a DYAD reading bookmark and literacy games that were played in class to give parents and families a chance to play at home to reinforce students’ learning.

The games are designed to boost their children’s literacy skill levels. For example, they may center around learning consonant and vowel sounds or even blended sounds at a beginner reading level while older students would read a story, then roll dice to answer questions based on setting, plot, characters, and problem and resolution in the story, which helps with retelling and comprehension, Landward said.

Students also had the opportunity to watch videos shared with them from Real Salt Lake players, who read stories to them, and administrators shared some of their favorite stories as well, she said.

Copperview’s commitment to literacy didn’t just stop there. In their Family Learning Center, they will kick off a program to help bilingual Spanish-English parents read alongside their children and develop a culture of reading.

Through use of The Peregrine House Literacy Project, Copperview will give parents the tools to provide side-by-side reading during a three-week period, starting in mid-April.

“We’ll provide books, tools and structure to help bilingual parents set up a routine with a time or length to read beside their child. We’ll review what works and what doesn’t and how to create that parent model and routine with the goal to read with the student,” she said, adding that after the first three weeks, there will be another month to check-in and get strategic ideas how to continue to make it successful. “A lot of our parents don’t feel like they have the skills or confidence in reading with their kids; they may worry about their accent, our different understanding, but it’s an important bonding experience between the parent and child.”

Landward said the books also have a diversity of levels in literacy and the kids already are excited to read them and have that support. As parents and children sit together, they also can identify and look up words that are unfamiliar.

As part of the program, they plan to have walking field trips to Tyler Library to find support for the families and also offer a summer reading program challenge.  

“We’re hoping to instill a love of reading in students and engagement in literacy with their families, to find a time, space and an enjoyment of reading together,” Landward said.