Dream it. Do it. Read.
That’s the theme of this week’s Reading Week, which is taking place in elementary schools throughout Rhode Island. The goal is to encourage children of all ages to stimulate their imaginations and explore ambitions through the power of reading.
Also, schools are hosting individual events and lessons to motivate students and a number of celebrities have appeared in local classrooms to read stories and talk with the kids. Among those appearing in Warwick classrooms – some carrying their own books and others willing to read what they were handed – were Mayor Scott Avedisian, General Treasurer Gina Raimondo, First Lady Stephanie Chafee and even Uncle Sam.
Wickes School’s Roy Costa wiggled into the Uncle Sam outfit yesterday morning before reading "The Sweet Land of Liberty" to an all-purpose room full of students mostly dressed in red. The red attire was all part of the Reading Week hype.
“We make it fun,” said Costa, who explained that there were different colors for different days.
Red, as it happened, also fit well with the book Avedisian read to fourth graders at the school, "R is for Rhode Island Red." The book focuses on Rhode Island history; and the mayor frequently diverted from the text to talk about the state’s rich history. On his way out, Avedisian paused to autograph T-shirts, hats and even a student’s purse.
When the state’s first lady visited the school on Tuesday, fifth grade teacher Anne Mulshenock said Chafee quickly related with the students describing the challenges she faced as a student. The underlying message Chafee left was to “believe in yourself” and that “everyone is unique.”
“I thought she was a teacher,” Mulshenock said. “She had such command of the students.” Having a celebrity reader, Mulshenock added, serves to promote and celebrate reading.
At nearby Lippitt, dreams were coming true.
“We’re turning the hallway into an inspirational dream palace for them,” said Carol Stearns, reading specialist at Lippitt Elementary School. “Each classroom was assigned a letter of the alphabet and asked to come up with a quote, saying, dream or wish. They are absolutely beautiful. The children are being very creative. I hope that they can look at their dreams and make it real and make it happen so they know that their own dreams can come true.”
Last night, Lippitt held their third annual Literacy Night. The festivities included a book fair sponsored by the Lippitt PTO to promote literacy, a craft table at which teachers helped students create bookmarks, a backpack raffle, as well as a chorus performance by sixth graders.
Additionally, they are conducting a community outreach program, as they are collecting donations for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization that grants wishes for children suffering with life-threatening illnesses.
“We’re selling Make-a-Wish bracelets at the school for $1,” Stearns said. “We don’t just ask for a flat out donation. We ask that the children do a good deed at home and earn the money they are donating so they have an understanding about it. They are excited about it.”