Students participate in Read Across America

In today’s world, many people prefer spending time online to reading a book, this is especially true for young people, and The National Education Association seeks to change that by bringing a spotlight to reading every March. Read Across America week was founded in 1998 to celebrate reading. It starts on March 2, the birthday of famous children’s book author Dr. Sessus.

Cedar Falls High School did its part in celebrating by sending student leaders to elementary schools in the district to read books for elementary kids.

Sophomore Olivia Martin went to Hansen Elementary to read to the kindergarten kids. “I read them Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. It really meant a lot to me to see their faces light up when I did a funny voice or got to a highlight point in the book, but the best part was I was able to ask them questions and connect with them over the book. There were lots of really sweet kids there, and this volunteer experience not only lifted up my day but theirs as well. It honestly was the highlight of my month to spend time with these kids and to fuel their creativity and learning.”

Senior and vice president of the cultural diversity club Jesika Basurto read to sixth graders in Hansen and Orchard Hill. “I even got to surprise my little sister in her kindergarten classroom. The books I choose were A Bad Case of the Stripes by David Shannon, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein and I Color Myself Different by Colin Kapernick. I chose these books because they offered up so many different topics for kids to learn about like gratitude, being yourself and diversity in a fun way that kids can understand. Being able to read to the kids felt important to me because books bring a new world to kids through stories and help teach them lessons, but it can also be a break for kids. A lot of times kids can be pushed aside and we think that they may not be affected by their environment and the world around them, but they are, and it is important to realize this and give them opportunities that can help them deal with this and grow as well but while still letting them be a child. I think reading and books can offer this freedom to children while also being a resource they can rely on to help them. Being able to see the kid’s face light up when you read a story to them they have never heard or even get a little emotional if they are in like fifth and sixth grade is something that is so powerful because it is just out of their pure interest and enjoyment and them connecting with something they are hearing. With technology being so prevalent in everyone’s lives nowadays, it is so important to disconnect and unwind with a good book, and being able to help kids do this even just for 30 mins was something very enjoyable.”

Senior Tanvi Khadiya, who is also the president of the cultural diversity club, took the time to read to the fourth, fifth and sixth graders at Hansen Elementary School too. “I read two books, The Little Good Wolf by Susan Crummel and The Adventures of Beekle by Dan Santat. The students loved both books so much. Besides just having someone come in and read a book to them, I think the connection between an older student and younger ones is very important because it’s a different type of connection than a student might have with their teacher. We had lots of fun discussing the book and talked about the messages that each one was sending about kindness and friendship. Through this opportunity, I was also able to encourage the habit of reading and talk about why Read Across America week is so important. All in all, it was a truly rewarding experience for myself and for the students that I read to, and I would encourage more people to sign up to read to our elementary students.”

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