Windward students at every grade level enjoy read alouds as part of their curriculum, since research has proven that reading aloud builds important skills such as reading comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, and more. World Read Aloud Day, which took place on February 3 this year, is an annual global celebration that actively encourages readers of all ages to read aloud both at school and at home.
Across all campuses, Windward teachers acknowledged World Read Aloud Day by inviting authors for a virtual presentation encompassing a read aloud of one of their books plus Q&A time with the students. Students also discussed the significance of World Read Aloud Day and listened to a read aloud with their library teachers during the week.
- Manhattan Lower School Teacher Sarah Nordgren’s fourth-grade class and Manhattan Lower School Teacher Allison Stuebe’s third-grade class welcomed author Heather Lang.
- Manhattan Lower School Teacher Louise Marenakos’s fourth-grade class welcomed author Faith Pray.
- Manhattan Lower School Teacher Danielle Ngo’s third-grade class welcomed author Andrea Loney.
- Manhattan Middle School sixth grade welcomed author Tootie Nienow.
- Westchester Lower School Teacher Jessica Sorna’s third-grade class welcomed author April Jones Prince.
- Westchester Middle School Teacher Hannah Ewing’s seventh-grade class welcomed author Keely Hutton.
- Westchester Middle School Teacher Sara Jo Karger’s fifth-grade class welcomed author Michelle Cusolito.
Some teachers invited authors whose books related to content that the class was covering. Fourth graders in social studies class learn about New York State history, including the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge. So, Ms. Sorna invited April Jones Prince to read aloud Twenty-One Elephants and Still Standing which tells the story of P.T. Barnum extravagantly demonstrating to New Yorkers how much weight the bridge could hold.
Author Keely Hutton visited Ms. Ewing’s class to read an excerpt of Soldier Boy, a book about a Ugandan child soldier. Ms. Ewing teaches about another 20th Century African Civil War through the book Taking Flight, a memoir of a Sierra Leonean war orphan, so she thought the presentation would be an interesting juxtaposition for her seventh graders.
Fifth grade students learn about biomes in science class, so Ms. Karger invited Michelle Cusolito, an author who writes about ocean life zones, light zones, coral reefs, and marine ecosystems, to read from her book Flying Deep.
Ms. Nordgren and Ms. Stuebe selected an author based on their students’ self-proclaimed interests in the environment, animals, and feminism. Heather Lang writes books on women who overcame impressive obstacles and made an impact in history, and the fourth graders already had background knowledge on Eugenie Clarke (“The Shark Lady”) after reading about her in third grade.
The entire Manhattan Middle School sixth grade welcomed Tootie Nienow to read her book There Goes Patti McGee, a biography of the first-ever professional female skateboarder. The sixth-grade teachers agreed that the presentation would be engaging and timely, as skateboarding will make its Olympic debut during the Tokyo Games.
Although Ms. Marenakos was not initially familiar with Faith Pray, she knew her fourth graders would connect with her book, The Starkeeper, which discusses the importance of kindness, a theme the class always emphasizes.
“Reading can be incredibly challenging for many of our students,” said Ms. Marenakos. “I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity [with World Read Aloud Day] to build upon my students’ love of reading at a young age. Making reading fun for our kids can truly make all the difference and help grow a lifelong appreciation for the joy of reading.”