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Reading buddies are all smiles

8th-graders select book, read aloud to preschoolers

Recorder/Paul Franz
Eighth Grade Academy Student Amanda Elwell and Academy of Early Learning student Jack Williams read ‘Naughty Little Monkeys’ on Monday.

Recorder/Paul Franz Eighth Grade Academy Student Amanda Elwell and Academy of Early Learning student Jack Williams read ‘Naughty Little Monkeys’ on Monday. Purchase photo reprints »

GREENFIELD — Greenfield students old and young were reading together at the Academy of Early Learning Monday morning in a project designed to support the state-designated Family Literacy Month.

Students from the Eighth Grade Academy were each paired with one or two preschoolers. Together, they sat at tables or next to each other on the floor as the 8th-graders read aloud while the preschoolers listened and looked at the pictures.

“I think it’s great just mixing up the ages and having the older kids reading and being helpful to the younger kids,” said Nancy Garlock, program coordinator for the Academy of Early Learning. “Older kids are magnets for younger kids. They love being with them.”

Ariana Lal, one of two English/language arts teachers at the 8th Grade Academy, said that the project benefits her students as well.

“Our kids, many of whom are reluctant to read out loud, get to read out loud to a very eager and forgiving audience,” she said. “It really works out well for both sides.”

The eighth-graders spent time examining children’s books to determine the elements that would be most appealing to children. Then, each student selected a book and practiced reading out loud with classmates, she said.

“Some kids felt so strongly about books they had as children, that they brought them in because they wanted to read them,” said Lal.

Nolan Beauregard selected “Birthday Box,” a book by Leslie Patricelli about a child who receives a special box for his birthday.

Beauregard, who read to two young boys, said he enjoyed the experience.

“I just wanted to see what the kids were going to be like,” he said. “They had smiles the whole time.”

Preschool teacher Janice Fuller said that children enjoy it whenever outside readers come into class.

Often, Fuller said, her students will participate in activities that directly relate to the book they read. The books will also generally follow a theme, she said.

But Monday, the book was a complete surprise — something that was equally exciting for her students, she said.

You can reach Chris Shores at:
cshores@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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