Fun school night encourages reading

Published 9:16 pm Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Children enjoyed an evening of fun and learning with their parents when an elementary school became a campground for reading.

Nansemond Parkway Elementary School held the free “Camp Read-A-Lot” Tuesday evening. About 94 parents and 100 students rotated between interactive stations around the school that encouraged participation from both adults and children.

Nansemond Elementary Title I specialist Tawnya Vogel organized the event and its volunteers to inspire good reading habits.

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“We’re trying to encourage parents to read nightly with their children, or just encouraging their children to read books on their own,” Vogel said.

Families lay down in the school gymnasium decorated for “Reading Under the Stars.” They read books on sleeping bags with recorded sounds of campfires and crickets. Volunteers prepared tents and decorations.

“We put in lots of décor and ambience,” second-grade teacher Stacy Sammons said.

WHRO education specialist Rosalie Rodriguez presented books and other giveaways to a line of families at her van outside the school. Her van was filled with Dr. Seuss decorations and a “reading pledge” poster.

“I have them recite the reading pledge and promise to continue to be good readers,” she said.

The children made “puppet puppies” in the first-grade hallway with lunch bags and construction paper.

“I enjoyed making my puppy,” 6-year-old kindergarten student Louis Tucker said before going to read “There’s a Wocket in my Pocket” with his mother.

Julie and Bert Hammond’s 10-year-old son Connor was one of the “living statues” of famous Virginians. Children dressed as these historical figures in the fourth-grade hallway.

“He was excited to play Patrick Henry,” Julie said.

Fourth-grader Devinah Warren, 11, said her favorite Virginian was Oliver Hill, and that history is her favorite subject. Her mother, Doressa Warren, was also impressed.

“I think this is great,” Doressa Warren said. “It’s a good learning opportunity. It makes it more interesting.”

The most popular station allowed the children to make s’mores. They also described the treats using their five senses.

“If it’s something they can eat, they’re usually more involved,” special education teacher Clare Ernest said.

Vogel said the night was successful, and that the first step to improving the odds of children reading is to put books in their hands.

“I saw a lot of kids wanting to go to the reading station,” she said. “That’s great.”