“So I take this oath, to make reading my way, of feeding my brain, what it needs every day.” So goes the last verse of a readers’ oath recited by students at Golden Terrace Elementary School, on a recent Friday, as they pledged their fidelity to read, read, read.
The school’s reading coach, Danielle Chapranka, organized the culminating activity of a five-day celebration of “Read Across America” with a “Reader’s Theatre” event held in the primary courtyard.
Students, sporting “Cat in the Hat” striped hats, got a chance to recite the oath, to sing the “Read Across America song and watch a whimsical vignette presented by the second-grade theatre group.
The week-long event marked the birthday of children’s storybook author, Dr. Seuss, with students reading and hearing his stories, dressing up and enjoying visits from his fictional characters like “Thing One” and “Thing Two” and of course the “Cat in the Hat.”
Also on Friday, the “Cat in the Hat” in full costume made a guest appearance in the media center.
Parent and crossing guard Connie Hennick and Barbara Locke took turns dressing as “The Cat” and read aloud to students who were enthralled with the live version of one the most infamous of all fictional characters. Students were so well versed in each line of text that they finished many lines in unison.
Carol Roberts, primary level media specialist, said that children respond well to Seuss’ books and characters because the books are easily read by beginning readers, readers who are struggling to read and by those who have basic reading skills.
“The most popular book, by far, is the ‘Cat in the Hat.’ ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ does very well too, as it is easy to memorize and to repeat when read aloud. The popularity of the books is due to the pure nature in which the text is written, the various themes and imaginative illustrations. They are the recipe for his success,” Roberts said.
During the week, other fun teachable moments involved spin off activities involving some of Seuss’ most beloved titles. His books were read during the morning news each day, by guest readers like Principal Kim Lonergan and selected students to readers from St. John Neumann Catholic High School.
Isaiah Hernandez, a second-grader, said, “I’m not sure which event I liked best this week - dressing up,
or hearing the stories read on the news - but my favorite book is The Cat in The Hat. I like that one best, because I think it was the first one Dr. Seuss ever wrote.”
On Monday, the school head a career day to coincide with the book, “Oh, the Places You’ll Go.”
“Many students dressed in authentic garb complete with dress shirts and neck ties to support their career choice of doctor and lawyer – the most popular. We also had a fashion designer who dressed in her own creations,” Roberts said.
Primary grade students seemed to choose to emulate popular figures like singers, actresses and celebrities, while the intermediate students, in third to fifth grades, chose professional careers in medicine and law.
“If I Ran the Rainforest” featured on Tuesday, inspired students and staff to connect the title to their April 21 field day in celebration of Earth Day on April 22.
“Field day activities will include trash pick-up and recycling of used water bottles, scooter races as a means of alternative transportation and a water relay denoting water conservation, to name a few,” said Roberts.
On Tuesday, intermediate grade students also had a chance to vote on Sunshine State reader favorites using authentic touch screen voting machines, brought into the school by Naples Supervisor of Elections, Cynthia Young.
Roberts said that three fifth grade students who read at least three Sunshine State readers qualified to be trained as “poll workers.”
“The machines were loaded with all 15 book titles and 75 students voted for their number one pick, ‘Seer Shadows.’ Since this was the first time our school has ever participated in the Sunshine and Sunrise readers program, this was a great experience for students to experience the voting process,” said Roberts.
Eighty-three primary students, who qualified for voting privileges by reading at least four titles from the Florida Reading Associations “Sunrise” book list, voted for their favorite book, “Dewey! There’s A Cat in the Library.”
“To track eligibility at both sites, students who read the book took a computerized test for comprehension called, ‘Scholastic Reading Counts.’ If they scored at least seven of the ten questions correct, they passed the test and received credit for reading that book,” Roberts explained.
She noted that after viewing the voting process, students would have greater motivation to read and participate in next year’s voting process.
Midweek, wacky Wednesday found students arriving to school wearing their clothes backwards. Students delighted in hearing teacher, Shannon Slusher, primary campus guidance counselor, read the tongue twister Seuss classic, “Fox in the Sox” on the morning news.
“Robert Vargas, second grader weighed in on the activity and said, “I thought Ms. Slusher was really funny today when she read ‘Fox in Sox.’ She said she thought it might be a joke because it was so tricky to read, but she did a really good job.”
Kindergarten student Dakota George also loved Wacky Wednesday and getting to wear her clothes in reverse.
“Friday was really good too, because of the crazy red and white striped socks I got wear - just like the ‘Cat in the Hat,’” she said.
Throughout the week of fun and imaginative activities a lot of teaching and learning was going on, however.
“Dr. Seuss books lend themselves to rhyming as a source of word decoding. The entertainment factor in his books helps students with comprehension skills, as the children ‘buy in’ to the stories because they are humorous,” said Roberts.