High school students create literacy kits for library

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Jewett City - posted Wed., Jun. 29, 2011
Students (from left) Jen Pepin, Tina Carey, Nicole Dyer-Cloutier, Victoria Gionet and Shelby Jordan, with teacher Dolores Walsh, show off their literacy kits. Contributed photo. - Contributed Photo

Parents of young children who visit the Slater Library in Jewett City have a new tool to help build a love of reading in their homes.

The library recently received five “literacy kits” designed and assembled by students in Dolores Walsh’s Early Childhood Education class at Griswold High School. Each kit is based on a preschool-level children’s book and includes a copy of the book itself.

But that’s only the beginning. The kits include what Walsh called “story-stretching questions” that parents can ask the child to prompt discussion or gauge the child’s understanding of the story. There are also facts included that relate to the story or subject matter: for example, a book about frogs includes some additional facts about frogs not included in the story.

Also included in the kits are five activities related to the story. Walsh said that examples included art projects, puppets, food-related activities such as cookie cutters and recipes, or story cards that relate incidents in the story and allow the child to arrange the narrative in the correct order. “We tried to use things parents might have at home” in the activities, Walsh said.

Last but not least, each of the kits includes a letter from Walsh and the student who assembled it, explaining why she chose the particular book.

Many of the objects included with the kits were donated by the students themselves or purchased through funds raised by a bake sale through the GHS family and consumer science department, Walsh said. “We’re trying to make [this] an interdisciplinary project,” she said.

Students from the GHS class, which included Jen Pepin, Tina Corey, Nicole Dyer-Cloutier, Victoria Gionet and Shelby Jordan, visited Slater Library before the school year ended to present the kits to library director Meg Vantine and children’s librarian Anne Grzelak. “The librarian was excited to have these kits available,” said Walsh. They can be checked out by anyone with a valid Connecticut library card.

The kits have arrived just in time for the library’s summer reading program, which got underway June 22. This year’s program includes an Around the World Bingo Game and will continue through Aug. 5. A complete schedule of the program’s offerings is available at the library.

Walsh said that five students took the year-long, college credit class, offered at GHS in conjunction with Three Rivers Community College’s career pathways. “Most of them are interested in [a career in] early childhood education or a related field,” she said. The class curriculum focused on the importance of fostering literacy in children, and emphasized how children who are read to from an early age develop a love of books and reading that serves them well in their later academic careers.

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