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Club unites parents, teachers, students

Program at McBride Elementary funded by Oregon Reading Association grant begins this week


SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Jayden Beeler, a first-grader, reads 'Hi! Fly Guy' with Cathy Lambert, a reading specialist teacher at McBride. 'Hi! Fly Guy' is one of the books Lambert will be reading with a group of parents and students at the book club being held on Thursday, Feb. 18.A newly formed book club at McBride Elementary School is trying to bring together teachers, parents and children to foster a love and appreciation for reading.

Starting Thursday, Feb. 18, a group of teachers and staff at the school will begin hosting a series of “Parent and Child Book Clubs” to engage families in a creative, interactive, enjoyable literacy setting.

At the start of the school year, a small group of nine teachers embarked on a book club of its own, reading a book titled “Text-Dependent Questions.” The book was designed as a professional development tool to instruct teachers about how to help students answer more in-depth questions about not just what they read, but the meaning of a story.

While the teachers began discussing how to implement those strategies in the classroom, talks also began about ways to integrate that type of learning into the community.

Rosalie Sumsion, a reading specialist at McBride, applied for a $300 literacy grant from the Oregon Reading Association to help fund a parent and student book club to do just that. Sumsion said the group wanted to develop a program that would help engage parents in the overall education of their students.

Letters about the book clubs went home to parents in late January, inviting them to sign up for one of eight different events offered in February and March. Much like an adult book club, students get to decide which book they want to read from a short list, take the assigned book home to read with their parents, and then show up for a discussion with their parents and teacher about what they read together.

The hope is that through the process parents will be able to foster a love of reading with their children, while also becoming more aware of the techniques their children’s teachers might be using in the classroom, Sumsion explained.

“Reading at home is one of the best things you can do with your child for reading achievement,” Sumsion said. “I think it sends a message to your child that reading is important, you value it, and more than that, it’s enjoyable.”

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: NICOLE THILL - Ryder Lamping, a first-grader, works with Mary McCartney, a first-grade teacher, on Tuesday, Feb. 2. McCartney is also hosting a book club for students and parents on Thursday, Feb. 25.Cathy Lambert, a reading specialist at McBride, said getting parents to show students how fun reading can be also helps enhance their education. It can be easy for parents to forget how difficult it is to learn how to read as a child, Lambert said, but encouraging students throughout the process is critical to helping them grow.

“We always say, ‘The more reading you do, the better you get,’” Lambert said.

For now, eight book clubs have been scheduled with seven teachers volunteering to run a different club for each meeting. Students from kindergarten to sixth grade were invited to attend the book clubs, and will have a variety of titles to choose from.

In just a short time, Sumsion said she received a lot of response from parents, and will likely expand the book club based on how many more parents show interest. Next year she hopes to expand the book club to include more options for higher grade levels as well.

“The emails I’ve gotten from parents have been very appreciative,” Sumsion said. “They’re excited to come.”

Many teachers at McBride are excited about the book clubs because it gives them a chance to work with students and parents at the same time in a relaxed atmosphere.

“This is the first opportunity to be able to put the students and the parents and the teacher together as a team,” Mary McCartney, a first-grade teacher, said. “[And as a teacher] it allows you to use different strengths in a different setting.”

In 2008, a book club was held for parents and students at McBride with a slightly different format. Several teachers, including McCartney and Lambert, said they are excited to volunteer for the reading clubs again.