Photo by Heather Middleton
By Curt Yeomans
Brown Elementary School kindergartner, Jadyn Franklin, slowly read the words in Harriet Ziefert's book, "Can You Play?" as her mother, Chaka, glided her fingers under the words on the page.
"Sam can't play, bit ...," Jadyn Franklin, 5, said as she read from the book.
"But," said Chaka Franklin, as she corrected the last word her daughter uttered.
"But, you can," the youth then said, as she continued to read the book.
Every other month, Brown Elementary School hosts a Parents and Children Together Reading Night. During these events, parents and their children come into the school's media center for two hours, from 4 p.m., to 6 p.m., and they read together. The students also take Accelerated Reader tests that school officials use to determine a pupil's reading level, and everyone participates in a family writing activity.
The school has been hosting the events for the last three years, according to Brown Elementary School Literacy Coach Denise McNair.
"We do it to give the families an opportunity to come together, and do some reading," McNair said. "It provides the students with another opportunity to take [Accelerated Reader] tests, and as a result of increased reading, it will increase student motivation and achievement."
The tests challenge the students to demonstrate how much they comprehend from the books, by asking them questions about the books' subject matter. Every time a student gets a score of "100" on a test, the youth gets to ring a bell as a reward.
Later during the event, children participate in a writing-and-reading activity with their parents that demonstrates how literacy skills can be improved at home to compliment the reading of books. On Monday, the second hour was spent with all of the children writing humorous riddles with their parents, and drawing illustrations to compliment the puzzling enigmas.
Neva Williams, who is the mother of Brown Elementary School fourth-grader, Christopher DeJerinett, and first-grader, Christian DeJerinett, said her family has been participating in the event since it was started at the school.
Christopher DeJerinett read two books on Monday night, while Christian DeJerinett read five books.
"I like that it keeps them reading, and it keeps them being challenged," Williams said. "It also improves their literacy skills, and their performance in school."
Christopher DeJerinett said he liked attending the family reading sessions because he likes books. "It is fantastic," he said. "I like all of the reading, and the activities that we do."
Brown Elementary School third-grader, Brianna Bates, expressed similar reasons for why she enjoys coming to the event. Her mother, Pamela Bates, said Brianna and her twin sister, Brittany, have been attending the sessions since they began at the school three years ago.
"I like to read books -- I like to read new books," Brianna Bates said.
Chaka Franklin said Monday was the first time her daughter, Jadyn Franklin, had attended a Parents and Children Together Reading Night, but the mother expressed an interest in doing it again.
"I like it, because it really gives families an opportunity to do reading together," Chaka Franklin said. "I just like the interaction between the parents and the children, and with the teachers."