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OCSD hopes to create ‘daily habit’ of reading with Read to Them initiative

Reposted from The Palladium-Timesclick here to view the story.

by ANNICKA WICKHAM, The Palladium-Times

OSWEGO — The Oswego City School District elementary and middle schools will start the “Read to Them” initiative on Monday as a way to encourage parents to read to their children.

“The whole idea of the program is to have kids and families reading together,” said Carin Reeve, the director of literacy for OCSD. “We do a lot of reading in school, but we really want to encourage this idea of reading with your kids as a daily habit.”

Reeve said the program will supply each student with the same book for free through a grant from the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation. The elementary school students will receive a copy of, “8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos” by Vivian Vande Velde and the middle school students will receive “El Deafo” by Cece Bell. 

“El Deafo” is a graphic novel, which Reeve is hoping will change the narrative about different types of books that may interest students.

“I know when my kids were little I was like, ‘Graphic novels aren’t really books,’” Reeve said. “But they really are and it’s a great opportunity for parents to really look a little differently at (novels that) don’t look like traditional books.”

Reeve, along with others who planned the program, chose the books from a list provided by Read to Them. She said they selected the book by Vande Velde because pets and animals are often a common ground for students.

“One of the great parts about the book is that it’s funny,” Reeve said. “I think we have had a lot of heaviness and I think it’s really great for kids to be able to do something fun.”

The program starts around the same time as the school’s open house so teachers can talk directly to parents about it. There will also be in-school activities for students that align with what is going on in each book.

“The principals are going to have things on the announcements,” Reeve said. “Here at Leighton, they are talking about doing some trivia, kids can put their answers in for a chance to win a stuffed animal. We have some animal visits planned. … It’s really a way to see how much fun we can have as a school community and as a community at large with reading the same book at one time.”

Fulton City School District had a similar program over the summer that was successful, which is one reason Reeve said they wanted to bring it back to OCSD. Read to Them was used around five years ago at OCSD, and Reeve said they are thrilled to have the chance to do it again.

“Our whole society is so busy,” Reeve said. “Sometimes we think it’s easier to if I hand you my phone or my tablet, but even those 10 minutes it could take to read with your kid is going to do amazing things for their brain.”

Reeve met with the owners of The River’s End Bookstore to further encourage families to read to their kids outside of the program. Both books are for sale at River’s End, along with the sequel to “8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel ÷ 1 Dog = Chaos” if families want to continue the series.

All 1,800 students in the elementary schools and 600 students in the middle school will get their copy of either book next week. Reeve hopes that the program will encourage families to read together for a few minutes every day.

“Some of the best memories you have might be sitting with your parent reading,” Reeve said. “You might not remember the book, but you’ll remember the reading.”

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