Students step out to take in books
Students gathered in clusters throughout the Theuerkauf Elementary School courtyard on Sept. 29 for Literature Day Al Fresco, where they listened to teachers and parent volunteers reading aloud from childrens' storybooks.
The annual celebration of reading has been held for the past eight years, said Theuerkauf principal Connie Sawdey. She came up with the idea in 2003 with the hope that it would inspire kids to spend more time reading.
"We want to get the kids excited about books and reading early in the school year," Sawdey said. As for holding the event outside, she said, "I want them to understand that they can read anywhere."
Holding the event in the courtyard, and allowing the children to freely choose which stories they sit down and listen to fosters a communal atmosphere where friends can positively reinforce the idea that reading is fun, Sawdey said.
Ian Whitfield, a fourth-grader at Theuerkauf, said he likes being able to choose his stories and get some fresh air. "It's nice to go outside instead of being in a classroom."
"The students look forward to it every year," Sawdey said.
The principal said she believes that the program is having a positive impact other than serving as an educational break from the normal classroom routine.
Since the program began, Sawdey said, the school has seen an increase in students turning in recreational reading logs, which track how many pages the students read on their own after school.