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Read to be Ready provides kids with the chance to excel
West Reading1 original
Lacy Garrison photo Upcoming second-grader Katherine Brickles reads The Most Magnificent Thing with her mom Desiree Brickles. During Thirsty Thursday at West Elementary, parents are invited to come sit with their children, enjoy drinks and cookies, and read together.

The Young Scholar’s Institute isn’t the only program offering learning opportunities for children this summer. During the month of June at West Elementary, Read to be Ready Summer Reading Camp is providing rich reading and writing opportunities for rising first-, second-, and third-graders.

“The kids are from West, Bobby Ray and Hickory Creek,” said program director Christie Allison. “We are trying to instill a love for reading in these children so we meet Mondays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. this month.”

Through a Read to be Ready summer grant, struggling readers will go home with $300 worth of high-quality, hardback books at different levels and interests. Most students can’t resist a peek into the inviting book room, which has tables stacked and displayed with colorful new books.

“I love going to the book room,” said upcoming second-grader Katherine Brickles. “For my first book, I chose ‘Maybe Something Beautiful’ and I fell in love with that book. It’s about a great city and a girl who paints on walls and makes the city more beautiful.”

Each day, students participate in an interactive read aloud, independent and small group reading, and a writing activity. This week’s theme is “I can be a performer” with the focus on music. After reading “I Got Rhythm,” students listened to songs like “Happy” by Pharrel Williams and discussed how the music made them feel. Afterward, students listened to a clarinet performance before creating their own stringed instrument using paper plates, paint sticks and rubber bands.

Second-grade teacher Vanessa Cannon is one of the 15 teachers on the YSI staff. She says they are working hard to provide ways to show students what they’re reading has a real connection to the world we live in.

“It’s fun and exciting and the kids are involved in real-life reading, not just educational school work,” said Cannon. “They are seeing that it’s not just sitting down and reading a book constantly, but in the real world it’s something we have to do. For example, in a couple of weeks, we will read a recipe from a cookbook, take them to the Farmers Market and then come back and make salsa to eat.”

Teachers also encourage parental involvement so on “Thirsty Thursdays” parents are invited to come and sit with their children, enjoy snacks and cookies, and read together. Parent Desiree Brickles said her daughter has had a blast so far.

“She’s excited about getting her 20 books and otherwise, she’d be with my parents through the summer and I figured this would help her read a bit better,” said Brickles with a smile.
Besides receiving free breakfast, lunch and snacks, students with signed permission slips will also be getting a cavity-preventive sealant on their teeth by dental hygienist Susie Taylor, who works for the Tennessee Department of Health. Taylor will also be teaching students about dental hygiene for healthy teeth, along with providing free toothbrushes and toothpaste.

With three weeks of learning ahead, this program has 70 students excited to improve their reading and show off their personal collection of children’s books.