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Families read together, having fun together

Family Reading Night brings out students and parents for a positive interactive experience
It's enough to warm the heart of most any librarian. Every Monday evening youngsters and their families quietly stream into the library at Ochoco Elementary School where they share some special reading time.
   The Family Reading Nights concept is a program initiated by teacher Jan Uffelman, and it's catching on like wildfire.
   "I attended the National Renaissance Conference last March. I got the idea from programs going on in schools in Tennessee and Texas where they have had great success," she explained. "Attendance has been growing each week since we started. The first night we only had four children and more recently we have had up to 17, in addition to one or two parents with each child."
   Together parents, grandparents and siblings select a book that appeals to them, which gives students the opportunity to read at their individual reading level.
   "In our hectic society, it's important that busy parents and children take time for an activity that is fun and promotes togetherness. Practicing reading skills is a natural," said Uffelman.
   As they finish reading and discussing the book, students take a test on the computer using something new called the Accelerated Reader Program, checking their comprehension of the story.
   "We are also using this program throughout the school in many classrooms," Uffelman said.
   Students set goals for improving their own reading level and for points they earn on each quiz.
   Uffelman indicated that the county library is also helping by identifying books available which are appropriate for the program. This allows students to check out books from the library, read at home, and take the quizzes at school to earn credit.
   "Our objective in having Family Reading Night is to foster a love for reading and to encourage families to spend valuable time together. Reading "with" and reading "to" are very good ways to model what it is like to be a good reader," she explained. "When children see adults reading for pleasure and entertainment, they are more likely to do the same."
   As an added bonus and to get the excitement building for the program, students have issued a challenge to principal Danforth, a challenge that has inspired kids to read even faster.
   "When the school has earned 1000 Accelerated Reader points altogether, Mr. Dansforth has agreed to kiss a pig at our morning assembly time," Uffelman said. "Right now we have accumulated over 700 points, so we are closing in quickly," she said. "We're all pretty excited!"