Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 19 March 2013 13:12
The family that reads together has fun together.
At least that’s the premise behind Family Reading Night, the annual event that drew about 217 students and nearly 200 of their family members to Hillsboro Elementary School Tuesday evening, March 12.
“We just want the kids to see that reading can be fun, and that its important for whatever career they’re going to go into,” said Sandy Arnold, who coordinates the event as the district’s lead librarian.
With “Spring Fever” an appropriate theme the week before spring break, students and family members rotated through six 15-minute stations.
One featured a skit on “Spring Cleaning” featuring three HES teachers and the school counselor as the actors. It was based on the “Amelia Bedelia” book series introduced by author Peggy Parish in 1963.
Three stations featured videos that involved around 30 fifth-graders as cast members. Two of the stations were based on books, “What Teachers Do (After You Leave School)” by Anne Bowen, and “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish” by Neil Gaiman.
The third video, called “Spring Training,” featured a pair of TV reporters with station “HES”PN following a couple of aspiring baseball players who use library resources to improve their game.
An annual highlight of the evening is a performance by the Staff Infection band comprised of USD 410 teachers and administrators.
For all the creativity invested in each station, Arnold said her favorite one is where students and family members read books together and browse for books at the book fair.
“I know some of the people, and some of the kids, maybe don’t like that station as much, but I think it’s a great 15 minutes of quality time with the family,” she said. “There aren’t as many distractions. You can just sit and read. There’s a lot of books to choose from. I like that part a lot.
“I don’t think people realize how much kids like to sit with their mom or dad, or brother or sister, and have them read them a story or listen to them read,” Arnold added. “I think we get so caught up in the busyness of life that we forget how important that is for our kids.”
Arnold said as high as participation was this year, the attendance may have been slightly lower than the previous year.
“But that’s OK,” she said. “The biggest problem with Family Reading Night now is that it’s grown so big we almost don’t have the facilities for it.
“We can use the commons and the gym and the library, but after that our rooms are not really big. I could create more stations, but then it takes longer into the evening”
Part of Arnold’s job is to come up with a fresh theme each year—which can be challenging, she admitted. Arnold credits the creativity of HES staff and the aides who assist her in the library for making the event possible.
“I don’t know what I’d do without my aides and my teachers,” she said.
“I really enjoy it, but I’m really glad it’s over,” Arnold added. “The kids seem to enjoy it. I take their feedback and we try to use it the following year. As long as they’re having fun, that’s what it’s all about.”