Fun activities and events helped motivate children and generate enthusiasm for reading in Oakdale schools when Read Across America, a nationwide event to promote literacy, was observed on March 2 in honor of Dr. Seuss’ birthday.
Sierra View second grade teacher Linda Kraus surprised her students by dressing up like “The Cat In The Hat” complete with signature hat, bow tie, and black cat getup.
“We read the book and made Green Eggs and Ham,” Kraus said in class that morning.
Her students had a large selection of Dr. Seuss books at their reading level to choose from that day. They had earlier made their own versions of the Cat’s red and white striped hat with their fifth grade buddies and had also had a read and “draw along” lesson of “Cat In The Hat” led by classroom guest, Fair Oaks Principal David Kindred.
Many teachers in the district hosted guest readers throughout that day. Some of the guest readers also included Oakdale High School students.
Starting back in September, students in Chris Perez’ Creative Writing class at OHS wrote children’s books and went through the process of editing them.
“They don’t realize how hard it is to write that first big story,” Perez said.
Once written, the stories were passed on to the Art department where Nancy Kern and Omar Salinas had their students draw the pictures for the books. Then the stories and the art went to the Desktop Publishing class where teacher Tim Matthies had his students put it all together into a published booklet form. The entire process took approximately five months.
This culminated with 27 OHS students, whose jobs ranged from writing, illustrating, to creating the final product, who participated in Read Across America at Sierra View, Magnolia, Cloverland, and Fair Oaks elementary schools. They visited 10 to 13 classrooms at each site, encompassing the kindergarten through third grades, and they read to some upper grades at Fair Oaks as well.
“As educators, we know how important it is to have reading,” Perez said.
He added that the project is supposed to be fun and he told his students that they don’t realize the effect of their influence on the younger students. He said it tells the younger kids that they can be writers and illustrators right now, they don’t have to wait until they’re “grown up.”
When the high school students finished reading their stories, some of them took questions from the elementary students, answering questions about the writing process.
“This gave us a chance to finally have fun with our writing,” said OHS senior Jacelyn Bunney to the younger students.
“We read a lot of children’s stories before we started,” Perez added.
Senior Kate Douglas illustrated a story that Bunney wrote called “Mike’s Missing Mustache” about a six-year-old boy with a mustache. The two went through a collaborative process to figure out what the characters would look like.
“I had to get my vision and her vision put together,” Douglas said, adding that they were both happy with how it turned out.
Read Across America is sponsored by the National Education Association and the California Teachers Association.