East Elementary School teachers present Stories in the Parks | CraigDailyPress.com

East Elementary School teachers present Stories in the Parks

East Elementary School teachers read out loud to children in area parks this summer

Michael Neary

— For Tiffany Trevenen, a child's best road to a book includes an adult companion. Or, better yet, an adult storyteller.

Trevenen, literacy coordinator at East Elementary School, has begun a monthly summer reading series called Stories in the Parks. She's coordinated the project with Principal Sarah Hepworth and Alisha Brown, a second-grade teacher at East Elementary who’s reading children’s books in area parks this summer with Trevenen.

Taryn Israelson, first-grade teacher at East, is also helping with the project and is slated to do some reading later in the summer.

The readings work this way: After one of the East Elementary teachers reads a book out loud in the park, each child receives an edition of the book that he or she can take home.

"Kids connect to people first, and then they love the books those people read," Trevenen said.

Trevenen talks about the concept of "blessing" a book — of reading it, of placing one's human stamp on it and encouraging a child to think about the adult reader later, in the solitude of reading.

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Trevenen selected three books for the three summer months: "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble," by William Steig; "Thunder Cake," by Patricia Polacco; and "Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook," by Anne Vittur Kennedy. Trevenen and Brown read "Sylvester and the Magic Pebble" in June.

"They're books that I love," Trevenen said, as she talked in her East Elementary School classroom about the project. She said the books touch deep emotions and, especially in the case of "Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook," make readers laugh.

Trevenen said she was trying to find books that appeal to a wide age range — and the richness of these stories, she said, creates that broad appeal.

"They're not just for kindergarten through second grade," she said.

Jennifer Lovelace, an East Elementary School parent, came to the reading at Craig Skate Park last month with her children, her mother-in-law and children she was minding.

"My kids love reading, and it was a fun little outing and it didn't cost us anything," Lovelace said.

Lovelace said reading plays a big role in her household.

"We've always read to our kids, my husband and I," she said.

And reading out loud, she added, is particularly important.

"It's interaction with somebody else," Lovelace said. "They can ask questions, and they get the full meaning of the reading."

Brown, who's reading the books with Trevenen, said children were pleased, last month, to spot their teachers outside of school grounds.

"They were so excited to see familiar teacher faces," Brown said. She noted that children would scramble over with siblings, cousins and other relatives.

"It was a family thing," she said.

Trevenen said "Thunder Cake," the next book slated for reading, explores a child's fears of thunder before reaching a resolution in the end. Trevenen extolled the author Polacco for exploring tough childhood emotions.

"She has a lot of stories that relate to kids' struggles," she said.

And July, she said, is monsoon season — a perfect time to read "Thunder Cake."

Trevenen said a key goal of the reading project is to bring books, and the experience of reading, to places close to East Elementary School. She said the effort is particularly important for students who can't make it out to the Moffat County Library's story time and summer reading program.

"It blesses a book — because we read a book, and then they get to have it," Trevenen said, as she gestured to boxes of books in her classroom.

It's the sort of project that leaves families who came in June eager to return.

"I can't wait until the next one at the end of this month," Lovelace said.

The next reading will take place on Tuesday, July 26, with "Thunder Cake" on the agenda. The readings start at 11:30 a.m. at Cedar Mountain Park, then at 12:15 p.m. go to Craig Skate Park, and then at 1 p.m. go to the Moffat County Fairgrounds. The same time-and-place lineup is slated for August 16, with "Ragweed's Farm Dog Handbook" on the schedule.