Winfield school promotes cross-cultural reading CARROLL COUNTY EDUCATION

November 23, 1992|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Staff Writer

Literacy is more than knowing your ABCs, says reading teacher Kathleen Wallis.

She and parents and other teachers at Winfield Elementary School are promoting books as a key to "global literacy" -- knowledge of the world's geography and cultures.

The theme of Winfield's reading contest this year is "Discover New Worlds -- Read." The contest rewards children with small prizes and pizza if they read at least 15 minutes every night.

"We hope the kids will discover not only other places, but things about themselves, too," Mrs. Wallis said.

Last week, parents read to classes about their ethnic backgrounds. Chris Gallagher brought art from her native Philippines, told children about the geography and climate, and read them stories.

Kim Gorsuch read from English writer Beatrix Potter's tales of Peter Rabbit and his friends and brought tea and scones.

Emily Robertson brought Scottish hats, knives and swords, and read literature from Scotland.

Nancy Moeller read a German story called "Pancake Boy," then gave each child in the room a pancake.

Frederick Alles, who has a grandchild in first grade at Winfield, brought class photos from when he was a schoolboy in Germany. He read from a German prayer book dated 1898.

Debbie Hoover, who teaches at Winfield, read "The Flute Player" and "The Crow and the Weasel," stories from her Cherokee heritage.

"We wanted the children to have a global awareness," Mrs. Wallis said.

"Their world is the home and the school, and maybe some community-type things, and that's it," she said.

The reading contest runs from October through March, with a different theme every year. Although students may read any kind of book, teachers have been encouraging books about culture or geography.

Mrs. Wallis said she chose "discovery" as a theme partly because of the 500th anniversary of the voyage of Columbus.

She said she had also heard that U.S. children compare poorly with their peers in other developed countries in knowledge of world geography.

Students at Winfield don't take any standardized tests that reflect their geography knowledge. The state will begin measuring that in 1994, Mrs. Wallis said.

For student Cody Haslup, 10, geography and social studies weren't compelling.

"It was kind of boring," said Cody, son of Warren Haslup and Lynette Lenz. But one book he enjoyed reading for the contest was "Of Men and War," which talks about historical figures such as John F. Kennedy.

Parent volunteers help raise money for the prizes -- rulers last month, geography trading cards this month -- and other contest paraphernalia such as simulated passports.

By spring, the classrooms with the best participation will win a pizza party from Pizza Hut.

That is the biggest incentive, children say.

"Most kids are crazy about pizza," said Christine Wojtaszek, 9, a fourth-grader. She is the daughter of Paul and Rose Wojtaszek of Vance Drive.

While 15 minutes of reading a night isn't much of a stretch for avid readers like Christine and Cody, some children need the prizes and pizzas to keep them going, they said.

"Some people don't have much time to do their reading because they have so much homework," Christine said. "And some kids have a bedtime limit, so they couldn't do their reading."

Older students also become "book buddies" with younger students, helping them read or reading to them.

"It helps us practice the reading," Cody said. Of course, he said, sometimes those first-grade level books are not exactly challenging.

"You'll have one word on the page, and it will be this big," he said, spreading his hands wide.

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