On February 28, Joy Shmueli, principal of Laurelwood Elementary School, had on a whimsical red and white Dr. Seuss hat as she welcomed community members visiting her school for its second annual Read Across America, Guest Reader Day. Student representatives escorted the community members, serving as guest readers, to their respective classrooms where they spent an hour chatting with and reading to students.
“This year’s goal is to excite children about reading and to show them that reading is important no matter what your career path is,” Shmueli says. “This event is also intended to strengthen community partnerships between our school and those who are coming to read.”
“I think it’s important to promote reading and literacy as a key skill set for current and future success,” says Mayor Jamie Matthews before reading for the school’s fifth graders. “[When I was a kid], I loved ‘Treasure Island.’ The book transported me to a new world of possibility and adventure. It had pirates and buried treasure. What more could a boy want?”
Mike Sellers, Chief of Police, brought a children’s book called “Officer Buckle and Gloria” by Peggy Rathmann to read to students.
“I have children of my own and when they were young, I’d read to them,” Sellers says.
An advocate for lifelong learning, Xavier De La Torre, Santa Clara County Superintendent, reads three books a week and is a fan of spy novels. His favorite childhood book was “Great Expectations.”
“I liked how the benefactor took a kid in and elevated his life,” says De La Torre.
Other guest readers included Christine Koltermann, SCUSD board president, Tracy Wingrove, associate executive director of the Santa Clara City Library Foundation and Friends, and Tanya Fisher, SCUSD’s assistant superintendent of educational services. Student athletes from Stanford University read at the school the following Monday.
Not only were the guest readers pumped up about reading and literacy, so were the students. In Kourtney Ghelfi’s first-grade class, students enthusiastically shared their writing and reading interests.
“I like to write about what I did over the weekend; writing in a journal makes my words neater,” says Rick, explaining how writing helps him organize his thoughts.
“I write about what happened on a day so I can remember what happened that day,” says Ana, another journal writer.
“I like fairies and I like reading about humans helping fairies,” says Amishi, explaining her love for the Rainbow Magic books.
“I like Dr. Seuss because he writes good books and he uses good vocabulary,” says Nick, a fan of rhymes.
“I like Pokemon books and Lego books,” says Rishabh, who adds that he likes reading a Japanese manga book series. “I like to read Berenstain Bears books and Power Ranger books,” Matthew H. says. “I like to learn new vocabulary and look at the pictures.”