MONONGAH – Beverly Richards stood during an assembly at Monongah Elementary School Thursday and shouted, “I love to read.”
Then, Richards – president of the Marion County Chapter of Read Aloud West Virginia – asked how many students love to read like she does. Nearly every hand in the auditorium went up.
“Reading is important and we know it is,” said Richards. “We want them to enjoy reading and love books, and that’s the whole purpose.”
Richards went to the school to distribute free books as a reward for the school having 100% enrollment in Read Aloud WV. As part of a drawing, every student in the school could pick one book and take it home.
“Every child gets to choose their own book to take home,” Richards said. “They all get one, but there’s more books than we need because Read Aloud believes in choice; choice is motivational.”
Read Aloud WV is a developmental literacy initiative that promotes reading through the use of volunteers who read books to students in their classrooms. Monongah Elementary has 13 volunteer readers, according to second grade teacher Mary Perrella.
Perrella helped get a volunteer reader into every classroom from kindergarten to third grade. After that, she entered the school into a drawing to win the books, from which only three schools in the state were chosen.
“I have 13 readers who come to the classroom and read every week,” said Perrella, who is also Monongah Elementary’s Read Aloud coordinator. “That’s who I think really deserves the recognition.”
Perrella promotes reading to her students as one of her main goals. She tries to make sure their developing minds understand how important reading is and will be in their lives. She said Read Aloud helps give the kids the idea that adults read books too.
“Read Aloud is a good role model for students,” Perrella said. “They see someone coming in to their room, reading to them, getting them excited about reading, they go to the library, they go look for the books they have read, and it’s just a positive thing for our kids.”
Perrella and Richards also recognize that it is important for kids to get into these educational subjects on their own time, so taking home books helps achieve what they hope will be a lifelong goal.
“A lot of their love of books happens before they even get to school,” Richards said. “Language and literacy happens before they come to school, and so if that’s not happening at home, they’re coming in already behind.”
Students could pick from books including “The Cat in the Hat” to “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” and books of every level of reading in between. Perrella was happy to see the excited childrens’ faces. She said kids were excited because they would have their own book, some of them for the first time ever.
“One of their goals is to get reading material into the home, so this is the perfect way to do that,” Perrella said. “The kids are very excited. I’m just glad they have a book to take home and that’s their book.”
Richards, too, was excited by the excitement, and added that reading isn’t only about reading; it’s about creating a basis for learning and knowledge building that a kid could follow for their entire life.
“We want motivated children to read,” Richards said. “Reading brings success not only in school but in life. If kids are educated, it’s much better for everybody.”