All eleven Burbank Unified elementary schools are promoting literacy through Reading Walks, installations of page-by-page displays of children’s stories along exterior fences of the schools.
“No one knows the importance of reading more than educators,” commented Thomas Edison Elementary Kindergarten teacher Sarah Schwartz, as she addressed the Burbank Board of Education at the May 6 regular meeting. “Reading builds the foundation for comprehension, discovery and knowledge.”
“It also brings solace and joy and helps build empathy and connections to the world around us,” added Schwartz, who also serves as Elementary Director for the Burbank Teachers Association.
“BTA has selected 11 books which are rich in diversity and full of beautiful illustrations” for the Reading Walks, she explained.
“The pages of the books have been secured to pieces of wood and will be hung along the chain link fences so that as families and community members walk past, they can follow the story along as they go. We have preserved them so we can rotate the books from site to site.”
“As people walk by they should look for the BTA apple to find where the stories begin,” Schwartz also said. “We want to end this very challenging school year by encouraging our students to see that reading takes place here, there and everywhere, not just in the classroom or library.”
On Thursday, May 13, Schwartz took her Kindergarten class for a Reading Walk. The book her class read walking along the Edison fence was The Book Tree by Paul Czajak.
“When Arlo, who is reading in a tree, drops the book he is reading on the Mayor’s head, the mayor decides books are forbidden. He rips up the pages of all of the books in the town and they scatter everywhere,” Schwartz summarizes. “The children no longer have stories to listen to at school, so they can only nap.”
“The chefs no longer have cookbooks, so restaurants only serve cereal. Everyone is very sad. That is, until book trees start growing where the pages scattered. Through Arlo’s perseverance and creativity, the Mayor quickly realizes the importance of stories.”
“By taking part in the Reading Walk, my students were excited by seeing the different parts of the book spread out along the fence,” she said. “In Kindergarten, we learn about the title, author, illustrator and so on.”
“This was a fun way for them to share in reading a story in a different format, reminding everyone that we can read here, there and everywhere!