In 1978, Dr. Seuss included this line in his book “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!” In the story, his famed Cat in the Hat explains the joys of reading as well as the importance of reading as a way to gain knowledge. His words are more than 30 years old, but the meaning is just as relevant, and the Oakley Union Elementary School District (OUESD) is reaching out to families to share a similar message that stresses the importance of reading.
On Saturday, Oct. 1 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the OUESD will host a Leer Para Crecer (“Read to Grow”) workshop for families with students in preschool through fifth grade. The workshop is meant to highlight the many positive outcomes that result from sharing a story, and encourage families to read with their children at home.
“Our goal is to share with parents the importance of early literacy skills and how they aid in the long-term success of children as readers and proficient students,” said OUESD Early Literacy Coach Traci Tovani. “We want to provide parents tangible, cost-effective ways to support their children in the area of literacy regardless of their home language.”
The workshop is the idea of Arthur Fernandez, who joined the school board in March. He wanted to find a way to reach out to the Latino families in Oakley to encourage them to promote reading in the home – a key ingredient in academic success.
As soon as Fernandez joined the board, he began looking for ways to create a literacy intervention program, so he established the Leer Para Crecer committee. The committee sought funding from area nonprofits, but when the grants fell through, Oakley-based organizations jumped in to help. The committee received grants from the Friends of Oakley and the City of Oakley program You, Me, We = Oakley, a new community program designed to help disperse valuable community information to Spanish-speaking residents.
The funding enabled the committee to purchase literacy kits, including flash cards, games and reading materials for families to take home. “Families will walk away with strategies for mastering sight words, letter names and sounds,” Tovani said. “Each kit will also include ideas for how to read with and to your child, as well as engaging questions parents can ask after they’ve listened to their child read aloud.”
While the program targets the city’s Latino families, the importance of reading in any home should make the workshop attractive to all Oakley families. Fernandez said he’s hoping to draw at least 100 families to the event, which will take place at Gerhinger Elementary School, 100 Simoni Ranch Road. The event will also include book giveaways, information on obtaining library cards, and entertainment provided by local author Art Miramontes, who will read his story “There’s an Elephant in My Bathtub!”
Aside from helping to plan the event, Fernandez also plans to be a part of the entertainment.
“I will be performing Teatro, which is Hispanic theater,” Fernandez said. “The Teatro will include two short skits. The first is called ‘La India meets La Migra,’ which is a comedy that deals with immigration. The second is called ‘Don Abuelito,’ which deals with a grandfather’s interaction with his granddaughter and her obsession with her technical gadgets. We will also have a youth ballet folklorico group performing traditional Mexican dances. The group is under the direction of Elisa Duarte, who is also a committee member.”
Local restaurants Los Charros, Chapala Restaurant, La Fuente, El Camino, Casa Del Palmar, and Rositas will work together to provide a free, traditional Mexican lunch for all participants.
“What we hope to accomplish is that all students who participate will enter school prepared to read and ready to learn,” Fernandez said. “We may not see the results immediately, but they will definitely pay off in the future.”
Registration for the event is free. For more information, call 925-382-6016.