Matoaca Elementary celebrates national reading event

Matoaca Elementary School joined 2 million people across the country Thursday in Read for the Record, an annual event promoting the importance of reading aloud to young children. That day, at some point or another, teachers read Anna Dewdney’s book “Llama, Llama, Red Pajama” to students in all grade levels – kindergarten through the fifth grade.

The event was sponsored by Jumpstart, a nationwide early education organization helping young children develop the language and literacy skills necessary for academic success which, according to their website, www.jumpstart.org, sets them on a “path to close the achievement gap before it is too late.”

A rhyming read-aloud, the book demonstrates to children that, despite the separation anxiety they face in the absence of their parents, especially at bed time, they are never alone – that “Mama Llama’s always near, even if she’s not right here.” It employs a simple rhyme scheme and natural language that all children can enjoy, regardless of the age spectrum.

“This was a great opportunity to have a book reading with our students, and it was good for us [educators] to come down to their level,” said Matoaca kindergarten teacher Kimberly Hines. “It was something they were really able to connect to.”

 According to the school’s reading specialist, Jamee Hall, another element was added that day to enhance the fun for the little ones: it was an occasion to wear pajamas to school. Many school faculty also participated by arriving to school sporting their own night-time attire.

Hall, who is by profession an advocate of reading and literature, feels early academic success starts in the home.

“It’s so important that kids read and be read to. The ones that come to school who have been read to are miles ahead of others who haven’t,” she said.

Matoaca Elementary Principal Debbie Wessle said the experience reminded students that it’s enjoyable coming to school each day to learn because “today,” she said, “was a great way for students to learn that reading can be done in a fun way.”

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