State Superintendent Shumway Joins Hundreds of Read-a-Thon Volunteers

Amelia Earhart Elementary Read-a-Thon 2

Utah State Superintendent Larry K. Shumway reads to Kelvin, a fourth grader at Amelia Earhart Elementary School in the Provo School District. He joined parents, city, state and Provo District staff for the second annual Read-a-Thon at Amelia Earhart.

Amelia Earhart Elementary School in the Provo District held its second annual Read-a-Thon this morning. The goal of the Read-a-Thon is to have one adult read to every child in the school for a half an hour. Parents and grandparents were joined by community volunteers, including members of the school and district staff, the Provo School Board, the Provo mayor, city employees, police officers, a legislator and Utah Superintendent of Public Instruction Larry K. Shumway.

The great thing about it is students see that we are all committed to their success.

The event is a great opportunity to reach out to parents and the community, Shumway says, and to show students how much we care.

“I think the greatest thing about this kind of an event is it brings parents into the classroom and offers them instruction on how to read to children,” Shumway says. “It’s also a great opportunity for members of the community to show their support for our schools. The great thing about it is students see that we are all committed to their success.”

Provo Police Lieutenant John Geyerman says participating in school events, like the Read-a-thon, helps build a positive perception of police officers.

“It lets them get to know us a bit; lets them know we’re just people,” Geyerman says. “That’s very important at this age level because they are not too nervous to come and talk to us and we can let them know that we are always there for them, they can always come and talk to us. And hopefully they carry that with them as they get older.”

Adults were encouraged to come in pajamas, attire several teachers and Provo Mayor John Curtis, donned for the event. The idea is to make reading fun, says Provo School District Associate Superintendent Greg Hudnall.

“What I love about reading is that it’s fun; it takes you away so that you get to be part of the story. And that’s regardless of socio-economics and individual abilities,” he says. “When I was young, I used to love reading baseball books. I wasn’t a great player myself, but when I read those books, I was the star.”

When parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles read with children, he says the fun becomes “miraculous.”

“I call it the Matching Miracle,” Hudnall says. “Elders share their beliefs and knowledge when they read with kids, and kids get to share that miracle with them.”

About 550 adults showed up for today’s event. According to Hudnall, that’s a whole lot of miracles.

So how should you read to kids? These tips Amelia Earhart Elementary teachers shared with the volunteers at the Read-a-Thon are a great place to start creating some miracles of your own. Just find your favorite reading partner and …

The Amelia Earhart Elementary Read-Aloud Commandments

1. Spend at least 10 wildly happy minutes every single day reading aloud.

2. Read at least three stories a day; it may be the same story three times. Children need to hear a thousand stories before they can begin to learn to read.

3. Read aloud with animation. Listen to your own voice and don’t be dull, flat, or boring. Hang loose and be loud, have fun, and laugh a lot!

4. Read with joy and enjoyment; real enjoyment for yourself and great joy for the listeners.

5. Read the stories that the kids love, over and over and over again. And always read in the same “tune” for each book, with the same intonations on each page, each time.

6. Let children hear lots of language by talking to them constantly about the pictures, or anything else connected to the book; or sing any old song that you remember; or say nursery rhymes in a bouncy way; or be noisy together doing clapping games.

7. Look for rhyme, rhythm, or repetition in books for young children, and make sure the books are really short.

8. Play games with the things that you and the child see on the page, such as letting kids finish rhymes, and finding the letters that start with the child’s name and yours, remembering that it’s never work; it’s always a fabulous game.

9. Never ever teach reading, or get tense around books.

10. Read aloud every day because you just love being with your child, not just because it’s the right thing to do. This is as important for fathers as it is for mothers!

Find more photos on our flickr photostream.

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