Read to Us Week kicks off at Willamette Primary

Local professionals are bringing words to life during the annual Read to Us Week at Willamette Primary School this week. The program showcases community members of various professions, backgrounds and experiences.

Professionals are invited to give presentations on their careers or disciplines and then read books tailored to their profession in a classroom. The goal is to expose children to various industries and career paths while creating engaged readers.

“The goal is to inspire kids to read and to find people in the community who read in their daily life and in their profession,” said Jennifer Tabor, co-chair of Read to Us Week.

This year’s readers include: accountant, astronomer, athlete, helicopter pilot, organic farmer, thespian, skydiver, speech therapist, mortgage broker and more.

“We have a good variety of really high-quality readers, people who are well established and love their job and who can share that enthusiasm with the kids,” said Stacey Spengler, co-chair of Read to Us Week.

“We always have the police and fire department come because who doesn’t like fire trucks?” Tabor added.

The program also highlights reading in various contexts, such as reading sheet music, maps and blueprints. Last year, students watched a crane operator in motion and learned about the mathematics behind the machinery.

Presentations and books are also tailored — if at all possible — around classroom curriculum, such as study in light, sound, motion, mathematics, trees and farming.

Thanks to a second-grade classroom that is learning about civil rights, a representative from the Salem chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also read to students on Feb. 4.

Other highlights this year included a team member of the Portland Winterhawks, a member from West Linn Parks and Recreation Department and actors dressed as Cat in the Hat from the Northwest Children’s Theater.

Tabor and Spengler said they don’t know how long the program has existed at Willamette Primary School, but estimate at least 10 years.

“It’s a very popular event. Most of the teachers really do love and appreciate it,” Spengler said.

“And the librarians are amazing,” Tabor added. “They choose all the books from the school’s library to read.”

Once each presentation is finished and each book is closed, students write thank you letters to their classroom readers.

“The thank you letters just melt your heart,” Tabor said. “The kids are so sincere and kind ... the feedback is amazing.”

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