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PHCS elementary principal reads books to 17 different classrooms to kick off National Young Readers’ Week

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PARISHVILLE - Parishville-Hopkinton Central School Elementary Principal Brooke Reid spent over six consecutive hours on Tuesday reading 17 books.

As part of a four-day stretch celebrating National Young Readers’ Week, the school took part in Read Your Heart Out Day Tuesday.

Ms. Reid traveled around the entire elementary school during the entire school day, stopping by classrooms from the Universal Pre-K through sixth grade levels to read books aloud. She spent 20 minutes at each stop and before beginning the book, she would let the students select the book from two options.

“It was actually a really, really nice day to spend just sitting with kids and sharing a lot of reading with them,” Ms. Reid said. “(The week) is something that Scholastic, I believe, started it. It’s sort of a celebration of reading. It’s sponsored by the BOOK IT! program. There’s a principal challenge and some of the teachers had sent me the principal challenge. Some principals would go up on the roof and read or do kind of crazy things like that to encourage kids to read and I really just wanted to spend the time the time with the kids reading and form connections with kids through books.”

This is the first year that PHCS has participated in National Young Readers’ Week, but Ms. Reid said she has wanted to take part in the celebration in the past. “I’ve wanted to do something like this, and it just was a good time of the year. With the Common Core there is a lot of intense instruction going and sometimes kids just need to read just to enjoy it. (It’s important) to learn that they can find pleasure in reading and read about things that they enjoy themselves.”

With snow having fallen on the school grounds Tuesday, in a strange twist of irony, Wednesday’s schedule is titled “Reading Makes Us Bright” and the students are encouraged to wear sunglasses to school. Thursday is “Crazy Hair Day,” where students who are “Crazy About Books” may attend school with crazy hair-dos. Friday will culminate with “Favorite Book Character Day,” and the children are allowed to go to school dressed as their favorite book character.

Even though the day was focused on motivating the students to read, Ms. Reid admitted to having a good time as well. She said she was able to read some of her favorite books during the day.

“I went around with a big collection of my favorite books. Then at each grade level I let them choose which one they wanted out of two different choices. So they liked getting to vote on the book wanted,” she said. “We did a lot of talking with the kids about the meaning, the author’s intent with the text. Some of them in the older grades focused on an anti-bullying message. We had some really meaningful conversations, and kids are deep thinkers when we give them the opportunity to do that.

“With the younger students I picked books that made me feel happy, and I talked to kids about how books can bring happiness to your life. I think they got the message and we talked a lot about that reading should touch your heart in some way.”

The older students received bookmarks and the younger ones went home with heart-shaped pins.

Sitting at her desk as students were dismissed around 2:30 p.m., Ms. Reid had completed her day of six straight hours reading aloud. Despite the task that some would find very strenuous, the principal said she would like to do the makeshift readathon again in the future.

“I would like to probably do it each year either this week in November or there’s another week in the spring that is National Children’s Book Week I think. This was a really good time of year to do it because if we set the stage now for kids just to love reading and spend time reading, then they become better readers and then everything else falls into place academically,” Ms. Reid said.

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