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Friday, August 21, 2015

The MAGIC of Summer Reading!

This summer marked the sixth consecutive year of the Hopkinton Recreation Summer Read Aloud Program!  The program invites Chariho staff members to volunteer an hour of their time to read aloud to the camp's participants.  (The reading program also took place in Charlestown!)  The students are so excited each week when they know one of the teachers who has shown up to read to them.  They never know from session to session who will be the day's "special guest stars"!

Like last year, I started off the first session by introducing the children to the available books with a short "book talk".  Then each child was allowed to select which reading group to join.  In the past we split them up by grade, but we've decided that it's even better to offer them a choice.  Not only did that increase their excitement, but it also introduced them to titles that they might decide to pick up and read on their own!  

This year's chapter book selections from the list of RICBA nominees!

We had three groups who were each reading a chapter book selected from a list of books nominated for the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award (RICBA).  During the school year, students are encouraged to read at least three of the books from the list in order to vote for the winner.  In addition, several of the schools (including Ashaway) hold competitions called the Rooster Games based these nominees.  By selecting books from this list, the children participating in HopRec will already have one of these books completed by the end of the summer!

Click to enlarge!
Mrs. Potter, a fifth grade teacher at Chariho Middle School, came every week to read Little Green Men at the Mercury Inn.  She told me that the kids would beg her to keep reading, so I'm sure that book is going to be really popular this coming school year!  (It's both suspenseful and unpredictable!)

I also signed up to take the same group every week, and we really enjoyed RICBA nominee The Vanishing Coin by Kate Egan and Mike Lane.  This story is about a fourth grader named Mike who is always in trouble because it's hard for him to sit still and focus while in class.  Worse, there's a bully who likes to make Mike miserable.  And to top it all off, Mike has to spend every day after school with a classmate who's not only a brilliant student but also a girl.  However, things start looking up when Mike discovers a local magic shop.  Not only does he discover a new hobby, but he also finds his own way to shine!

Throughout the book, the authors include directions on how to recreate the magic tricks featured in the story.  Each week I brought along the needed materials so the kids could try them out for themselves.  We had a lot of fun, and they were eager to try the tricks out on the other campers.  (Don't forget, you guys: a magician never reveals the secret!)  The very first "trick" we attempted was the challenge given to Mike by the owner of the magic shop: can you cut a piece of paper so that there's a hole big enough to fit your whole body through?  (If you want to learn how to do it, get your hands on a copy of The Vanishing Coin!)

That's a big hole, but I still can't fit through it!

Trying out a different strategy...

This 2nd grader fit through the hole she cut and was pretty excited by her success.  Then I told her that a grownup should be able to pass through without any trouble!  Oh, well...back to the drawing board!

Sweet success!!

In addition to our three "chapter book" groups, I also brought along a bin of picture books with a different theme each week.  (Some favorites were wolves, snakes, flies and dogs!)  To start off each session, I hid a puppet of that week's animal in a big, red bag and the kids had to guess what was inside.  Camper assistants Emma and Kiley did an awesome job sharing these with the younger listeners!

Emma's group poses with the books during "snake week"!

No matter which group a child joined, every one of them spent an hour each week interacting with some excellent books.  It truly is a wonderful program, and I'm very proud to be a part of it.  My sincerest thanks go out to the fabulous staff at the camp who were so accommodating in order to make it all possible and to the teachers who volunteered to participate! 

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