In 'Books for Breakfast,' parents visit Bryant Woods school to read to students

November 15, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Richard Whiting of Columbia seemed out of place perched on a small chair at Bryant Woods Elementary School, surrounded by five chatty children and a stack of books that included "Eek Stories to Make You Shriek."

It wasn't exactly intellectual reading, but it was still food for thought at yesterday's "Books for Breakfast" program, in honor of American Education Week.

Enticed by apple juice, bagels and pastries, about 80 parents read to their children. Teachers served the light breakfast and students offered up their favorite books.

The "Books for Breakfast" program was the brainchild of Fran Clay, the school's reading specialist, who was looking for a way to show children and parents how much value the school places on reading.

"It's a chance for parents to read to their children and children to read to their parents to show off learning skills," she said.

Mr. Whiting, a district manager for a pet supply company, read a short story about a frog, a duck and an elephant that searched in vain for a large enough watering hole in which to play. The short story brought smiles.

"That's a good one," said 6-year-old Alexis Day. "And it has good pictures."

Mr. Whiting then helped Alexis as he stumbled through "There's a Nightmare in My Closet," the story of a young boy who always shut his closet door at night to keep a nightmare monster away.

In the story, the nightmare monster makes his way into the boy's room anyway, forcing the boy to face his foe. The boy overcomes his fear and invites the friendly nightmare monster to share his bed with him.

Mr. Whiting, whose 6-year-old son, Joseph, was among the students in his group, said he enjoyed himself at the event.

"We wanted to encourage them to read," said Mr. Whiting, who said that he hadn't had the chance to sit in on his child's classroom before yesterday.

Parent Diane Connell sat in a corner of the same classroom with her second-grader, Caeli, to read books they had just bought at the school's book fair.

While Ms. Connell perused "Clifford's First Christmas" and "Clifford's Puppy Days" over a bagel, Caeli munched on strudel and flippedthe pages of the more difficult "Black Beauty."

Caeli turned 7 on Sunday and got the videotape about the much-beloved horse as a present.

The book was a little difficult for Caeli, who scanned the page and couldn't read some words, such as "watching."

But mother and daughter said they enjoy reading.

"I think reading is one of the great gifts we have as a human being," Ms. Connell said. "I think it's a great privilege to be able to read and to have books to read and to have ideas coming from different people and different places."

Nafeesa Jawed and her 6-year-old daughter, Sarah, found a plump, comfortable spot on a green beanbag to read their books.

"Her level is advanced -- more words, less pictures," Mrs. Jawed said of her library-card-carrying daughter. "She loves to read. She'll go one to two hours. Sometimes I have to tell her to stop. It's her hobby."

Mary Beth O'Brien, a frequent parent volunteer at her school, took her third-grader to her kindergartner's class so that she could read to both children at the same time.

"It's a nice program to get parents involved and in class," she said of yesterday's event. "I think [reading] is really the key to learning."

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