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Reading is fun ... really!

Posted: December 5, 2008 11:04 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2008 4:59 a.m.

Preschooler Jesus Martinez reads with his mother, Marcelina De Santiago and his father, Emmanuel Martinez during family reading night Thursday at Canyon Springs Elementary School.

A good idea became a great community outreach as nearly 200 parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers and administrators attended elementary school with their kids for an evening class on how to comprehend reading.

Darla Singer, third-grade Canyon Springs Elementary School teacher, came up with the idea to host a family reading night Thursday at which teachers and administrators model reading comprehension to parents and their children.

Books in English and Spanish were presented and language translators were present to further assist.

Students then chose books and read with their parents to practice new comprehension skills. At the evening's end, everyone enjoyed milk and cookies.

Kathy Wright sat down in a fourth-grade classroom with three families and read "Prince Cinders," a storybook about a boy Cinderella.

No one was impressed that Wright is the Sulphur Springs Union School District assistant superintendent of instructional services.

Kids and parents were impressed at the lively Cinderella-like story of a young boy whose big, hairy brothers made the sad little lad do their chores.

Fourth-grader Caitlin Gutierrez got a kick out of the part where Prince Cinders lost his trousers when he fled his beautiful princess.

Wright especially enjoyed the part where the goofy fairy godmother turned a tin can into a skateboard car so Prince Cinders could be big and hairy and go to the disco like his big brothers.

One thing they both agreed upon was how they liked the ending, about living happily ever after.

When it came to teaching reading comprehension skills, reading-night leaders handed out cards that reminded parents about the skills learned during the evening.

One of the card's questions was whether their child felt like the story's main character.

Gutierrez said she was the middle child but her older brother was 28 years old and he did not make his younger sister do chores.

Her younger brother, first-grader Jason Gutierrez, never has to do her chores, she said. Never.

Wright said the kids were a joy to be around.

"At first you could see them rolling their eyes. The little one (in the room) got a hoot out of it," Wright said.

Assistant Principal Jane D'Anna said the entire event was an enormous confirmation that adult family members want to be involved in the lives of their children.

"There were so many dads," D'Anna said. "It wasn't just moms. There were grandmas, aunts and uncles. It was wonderful."

Fatima Vasquez attended the reading night with her two sons, fifth-grader Jonathon and kindergartner Hyrum.

Vasquez said she enjoyed the evening for several reasons.

"It was a wonderful time because the English and Spanish were both presented and there were lots of activities," she said. "It's very important to support their kids."

Vasquez and her sons read in Jonathon's classroom for the evening.

Gallantly, she said, Hyrum offered to visit his big brother's classroom instead of his own.

"Kids love to have their moms and dads, aunts and uncles visit and it's very important to understand what happens at school," she said.

Principal Lynn David was enchanted by the experience.

"The community is hungry for this sort of involvement. The event accomplished so much," she said.

"All education is really a partnership," David said. "Parents are their children's first teachers, and they continue to be their children's most influential teachers. Regardless of background, parents can support their kids no matter what they are learning in school."

Canyon Springs will host another reading comprehension skills night after the new year.


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