This year, I shook things up by moving our annual storybook parade and celebration to the week of Read Across America. Traditions are hard to change, but it’s fun to try something new every now and then to see what we can learn from it.
The storybook parade has always been a favorite activity at our school. It’s a day to dress up as a favorite book character and celebrate that book for all to see.
We begin our day with 2 guest readers in every classroom. These are organized by amazing parent volunteer, Kim Ness. I pull a variety of books for them to choose from or they are welcome to bring their own. Students escort the readers to classrooms. We love having these community readers in our school. Many are parents, athletes, and leaders in our community.
Next, we have our storybook assembly. I try to keep this brief but meaningful. Sometimes we have a storyteller, skit, or shared reading. This year, I was listening to Matthew Winner’s Children’s Book Podcast, and heard the authors of the book Festival of Colors talk about the Indian celebration of Holi.
I loved the themes of this celebration where hate goes out and love comes in. This year Holi was on the same day as our storybook celebration, so I knew it was the perfect fit for our assembly. Our ESOL teacher, Ms. Childs, helped me reach out to families in our school who celebrate Holi to see if they would be part of our celebration. Two families agreed to help.
One family read the book and shared examples of the powders used in Holi. Another family, including a Barrow student, spoke about how they celebrate Holi here in Athens and the many meanings behind the festival.
I loved that we were able to learn from families right here in our school and discover a festival that many of us don’t celebrate or know about.
Following this, we formed into a line and marched down the sidewalk, around the school, and around the UGA practice facilities chanting “Read more books” while we showed off our costumes and books. Our 5th graders enjoyed some lemonade in the Dooley Garden across the street.
Many teachers in the school including gifted, early intervention, and specials all offered literacy-focused sessions for teachers to sign up.
I can’t wait to hear feedback from students, teachers, and families about the new time of year for storybook celebration. We’ll use this feedback to make decisions about next year.
What remained the same was that it was a day filled with celebrating stories in their many forms. Hooray for books.