Beth Glover, a fifth-grade teacher at Allatoona Elementary School, began the Read Across America tradition at AES in 2004. The event, which encourages schools to place an emphasis on reading through activities, themes and guest readers, is sponsored locally by the Bartow County Association of Educators.
“Reading is crucial in every area,” Glover said. “We work on things like reading applications, reading non-fiction ... and so what we try to do is reel [students] in by getting them to read whatever they want to read — magazine, cereal box — whatever, just read.”
She said by making reading fun and incorporating other special reading-themed days throughout the year, such as “Read with the One You Love” day, encourages a lifetime of interest.
“Reading shouldn’t just occur August through May. Pick up a book during the summertime ... and fill that brain,” Glover said. “During the recession especially, we aren’t able to go on vacations as much and we aren’t able to go on as many field trips, so let’s read about it.”
AES fifth-graders Angel Beltran and Drew Barrier said they enjoy reading chapter books, but Barrier said he also enjoys short stories.
“I like to read challenging books because it gives me something to look forward to and even when I don’t know a word, I can look it up in the library and learn a new word,” said Beltran, who is currently reading “Matilda,” by Roald Dahl, for the second time.
Both said they enjoy having access to their school library.
“[The library] gives me a large variety to pick from and I can pick from fiction to non-fiction,” Beltran said.
Featured at the school were students from the Early Childhood Education program at Woodland High School. Instructor Amy Bergman said she is teaching her students, who have an interest in pursuing a career in childhood education, that reading is the cornerstone to building a child’s ability to learn.
“Everything hinges on reading because if you can’t read or have a difficulty comprehending what you’ve read in social studies, science and math, everything becomes more difficult,” Bergman said.
Clear Creek Elementary School Principal Kelly Wade agreed.
“I think the more kids read, obviously the more literate they become, but it just opens a world of knowledge,” Wade said. “As we prepare our kids for middle school and high school, [reading events] build a good foundation as far as reading and the process they’ll have to go through in order to be successful.”
Media Specialist Pam Wilson said while students learn reading skills in the classroom, it’s important for them to learn the role reading plays in the daily lives of adults.
“Learning to read takes everybody — parents, teachers, community leaders — everybody is involved,” Wilson said.
Wilson said, at CCES, students have shown an interest in various book series, noting many have a penchant for the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series by Jeff Kinney. For other students, she doesn’t mind if they judge a book by its cover.
“Of course, for the younger girl students, their big focus is on princesses, so you try to incorporate all sorts of books on princesses because, if they see one on the cover, that’s where they’re going,” Wilson said.