Rec program exposes kids to reading

July 28, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff Writer

There's no telling who might show up at the Robinwood Recreation Center Tuesday mornings.

Amelia Bedelia might drop by. Sometimes members of The Babysitters Club show up. And one afternoon, a vampire rabbit named Bunnicula stopped in for a bite.

Characters from many children's books have been showing up from 11 a.m. to noon as Hillsmere Elementary School teachers spend an hour each week reading to kids from ages 5-12 and a few adults who enjoy a good story.

"I really wanted to do this program," said Hillsmere special education teacher Charlene Smith. "I think it's really important to expose children to reading just for fun. That's why I take books off my shelf and give them to the students. I want them to understand books are meant to be shared."

For 10 Tuesdays, throughout the summer, Ms. Smith and other Hillsmere teachers have volunteered to come and read to students participating in the center's day camp programs.

Last Tuesday, Ms. Smith sat on a floor in the midst of about 35 students who attend Hillsmere and Parole Elementary school. Before she began reading, she gave a little impromptu English quiz.

"What type of story do you think this might be?" Ms. Smith asked, holding up a copy of "Bunnicula."

"A narrative," one of the students yelled out.

"What else could it be?" she asked again.

"Expository," another said.

Ms. Smith had students break down the title character's name before she read to them. Students decided they saw fragments of the word bunny and Dracula, so the story could be about a vampire rabbit.

As Ms. Smith read the story of "Bunnicula," students sat listening attentively, laughing occasionally at the humorous text. By the time reading hour was over, Ms. Smith had read only the first three chapters of the book. So, she did what all the visiting teachers do: she gave "Bunnicula" -- and 10 other books -- away to the students.

"Now remember, in sharing this book with you, I want you to read it and share it with someone else," she said. "Whoever gets a book, it's yours to keep. But when you're finished with it, share it."

Marneka Hayes, a 10-year-old who attends Hillsmere Elementary, received one of the books Ms. Smith handed out, "Talk About a Family," by Eloise Greenfield.

"I like the different kind books they read to us," Marneka said. "Some of them are real good, but I like 'Amelia Bedelia' books best."

Marneka said she spends a lot of time reading the Hillsmere literary magazine and the daily newspaper.

"I like to read the comic first," she said. "Then I read the police beat."

Tanya Harris, another 10-year-old at Hillsmere, said she likes to read a lot, but she also likes the idea of teachers reading to her.

"It's fun when they read to us," Tanya said. "But I still like to go to the library at my school. I read all the 'Babysitters Club' books.

Treco Henderson, a 10-year-old who attends Parole Elementary, said he reads mostly comic books.

"I read Batman and Robin comic books," Treco said. "I got five stacks of them at home, all different kinds. But I did like 'Bunnicula.' That was a good story."

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