SOUTH BRUNSWICK: Read In marks Black History celebration

by Davy James, Staff Writer
   A yearly tradition at Indian Fields Elementary School in celebration of Black History Month continues to help build a love of reading between parents and students alike.
   The eighth African-American Read In took place at the school on Feb. 27, as volunteers from throughout the community came to read students a story written by a black author.
   ”This is another way to honor Black History Month and learn about the crafts of various writers that we use today,” said Assistant Principal Marlene Davis, one of the Read In coordinators. “This is a program that everyone can be a part of. It’s not just singled out for African Americans. It’s for everyone. It helps to build a larger connection with the community and the school and we love doing it.”
   The stories selected for reading vary in age-appropriate subject matter, with an emphasis on tying the book to what the students are learning in the classroom.
   ”We try to make a curriculum connection with each one of the stories,” Ms. Davis said. “The upper grades learn about time periods and different historical events. Our children are immersed in different units of study and learn about the various authors and their different crafts.”
   Ms. Davis said her vision of the program is to encourage the reading that takes place in the classrooms to carry over into the households.
   ”This builds a positive home and school partnership that encourages literacy and reading,” Ms. Davis said. “The volunteers and students take away the excitement for reading, which is especially rewarding. When the parents come in and read they’re amazed at the responses they get to the questions they ask our students.”
   The program also gives the children a pleasant break from the normal school routine.
   ”The students love to see their parents come in and read,” said secretary Eileen Raba, the other Read In coordinator at the school. “They light up when they see their parents come in and that’s nice to see.”
   The volunteers said the experience was rewarding because of the enthusiasm the students displayed.
   ”It was great to see the students engaged and able to discuss the subject afterwards and have a dialogue,” said volunteer reader Danyel Jones, of Brooklyn, N.Y., whose mother teaches at the school. “It makes me happy to see how excited kids can get from books and it was neat to see their smiling faces.”