Community Reading Day

All across our country communities are welcoming civic leaders, administrative personnel and private citizens to come into elementary classrooms to read to the students. The ultimate goals are to foster the love of reading and to promote literacy.

In our community, twenty-four readers came to our Primary School one day in early March to read to the children.  These included retired teachers, the Fire Chief, the State Representative, other town officials, and business people in the community. The students were greatly appreciative of these volunteers who came to read to them.

Community Reading Day strives to promote a life-long interest in reading.  Through reading, children can explore new worlds, experience different events, and gain knowledge. By having people come to school and read to them, they learn that reading is inportant to grown-ups, too.  They also learn what these volunteers represent in the community, and how they help others in the exercise of their duties.

Community Involvement

Literacy in a community is important. Children in low income familes seldom have access to books or have books in the home. Chiildren who have books at home or have access to them are more likely to do well in school, and develop adequate reading skills. This leads to a lower drop-out rate and greater success for these children in later life.
Reading is vital to success in school. Learning the language and learning to spell and define words comes from reading. The more the access to books, the greater the exposure to words and sentences will be. Books in the home helps to facilitate this.
Some communities conduct book drives with the goal of placing books in the hands of those who otherwise would not have them.
One such drive is “Worcester: The City that Reads” in Worcester, MA. This drive aims to put books in the homes of those who otherwise would not have them. They hope to promote life-long reading habits. They want to collect as many new or gently used books as possible to reach their goal. Drop-off sites are listed on http://www.worcpublib.org and http://www.worcesterschools.org.
Keep watch for such a drive in your community, or even start one yourself.

Home

Home means many things to many people.  It can be a place of refuge, a port in a storm, or the place of one’s birth.  Anything can qualify as a home.  Castles, hovels, tents, estates, and even caves can qualify.

Pliny the Elder said that “Home is where the heart is.”  Thus, home can also be a state of mind, a feeling of comfort and peace.  Wherever people feel safe and secure, they can feel at home.  Wherever they have the love of family and friends, they are home.

Homer’s home was a garden, a collection of potted plants and flowers.  He felt safe here.  He had friends, such as the chipmunk, and the birds that visited the plants and nested in the nearby bird houses. People also took care of him, seeing that he was taken inside during storms.

When the wind blew him away from his home, he was confused and upset.  Nothing was familiar, and he felt lost. Then new friends appeared and worked to get him home.  They knew how much he needed to go there, and they did their best to see that he returned.

Og Mandino said “You never know what events are going transpire to get you home.”

That was certainly true for Homer.

Fun Activities for Children

“Homer’s  Big Adventure” offers many opportunities for parents and teachers to select simple crafts for children to make.  These can help bring the story to life.  With several animals to choose, activities can range from the very simple to more advanced, depending on the age of the child.

One in particular I found online is a paper plate owl. Directions are as follows:

Paper Plate Owl Craft by CraftsbyAmanda.com  Amanda Formaro

Need:      

2 paper plates,    brown craft paint,  paintbrush or sponge,  construction paper in yellow, white, black and orange,  glue stick, and scissors

Paint the paper plates brown and let dry.   Cut 2 circles 4-1/2″ in diameter from yellow paper,  2 circles 3-1/4″ in diameter from white paper, and  2 circles  2″ in diameter from black paper.  Cut 1 triangle 3″ long and 2″ high from orange paper.   Glue the white circle to the center of the yellow circle, then glue the black circle to the center of the white circle.  Repeat.    Cut 1 of the paper plates in half for the wings.  Trim the top of the remaining paper plate to form two ears at the top.  Glue the eyes to the front of the plate and glue the beak directy below the eyes.  Glue the wings to the back of the paper plate.

Another possibility is to use “Stick-n-Felt”, a softened adhesive-backed felt, to make the eyes.  This can be found in many craft stores in the Kid’s Department.  These circles can be cut, peeled and stuck on the plate to make the eyes.

Children also enjoy coloring.  The webside www.coloring.ws has a multitude of animal pictures which can be printed out for children to color.  Coloring is very therapudic for many children.  It helps them focus on a task to reach an end result.  Motor skills come into play, as well as self-expression.  It really isn’t necessary to select traditional colors to use in the picture, but color recognition does result, also.

There are so many new products on the market for children to experience in making their projects.  The internet is also a great place to find crafts and products.   Hopefully, children will find much pleasure in creating crafts and pictures to accompany their reading of “Homer’s Big Adventure”.         

 

Reading to a Child

“Homer’s Big Adventure” is a book for younger children, and a good tool for introducing them to the adventure of reading.  Parents, grandparents, and teachers can all take part in this.

Parents can read this book to their children.  Taking time to spend with them, enjoying the story and the pictures, helps children grow to appreciate books and stories. It also helps children in their development of language and vocabulary. A quiet time spent reading and talking about the story helps children in a multitude of ways.

Grandparents have a special place in a child’s life.  Having them read to the child not only develops a bond with the child, but also helps the child expand his knowledge and ideas.

Teachers can read the book to their class at reading time, and help them explore the adventure Homer has, as well as discuss with them the idea of friendship.  As the animals join together to solve his problem, they form a group of friends.  This thought can be expanded into other areas of the learning process.  Getting along with others is important for them to learn in the early years.  This carries forward into later stages of development. Also, teachers can cover the qualities of the animals, and how each is special.  They can discuss each one as to its nature, habits,and other attributes.

So we see that reading this book to younger children can help them expand their interests as well as entertain them. Time spent reading to a child is never wasted.

Lessons to Learn

While “Homer’s Big Adventure” seems like a pleasant little tale of a wooden bear who is trying to return to his garden, there are some basic lessons in the underlying theme.

As he ponders his situation, he is joined by various other animals, all who are trying to help him.  These are different animals, all with thier own  attributes.  Still, they come together to solve a common problem.  People can do this, also.  Persons of different backgrounds, ethnic origins, or gender, to name a few, can join to meet a common goal. This is the lesson of cooperation.

Friendship is also a lesson.  Friends come in all sizes and shapes and interests.  These animals become friends to Homer.  They are interested in him. As we grow, we gather friends along the way.  Each is special to us.

As the reader rereads the book, other lessons may emerge. That is the adventure one finds in “Homer’s Big Adventure”.

My Inspiration

“Homer’s Big Adventure” started out as a device to help promote sleep. I usually spend two or three nights a week lying awake in the early morning hours listening to the sounds outside our home. Many a night I have heard the soft “woo-woo” of the great horned owl living in the woods behind us.  Sometimes he was very loud and sounded close by, and other times he sounded far away.
We also have quite a bit of wildlife here, such as deer, opossum, skunk, squirrels and chipmunks. Birds also visit our feeders in winter, and our garden in summer. Our garden consists of several pots of shrubs and flowering plants, all placed in front of our wooden gazebo.  Here resides Homer, the little wooden bear that we bought during our trip to Alaska.
During one particularly windy night, I began to fantasize as to what would happen to Homer should the wind be strong enough to blow him out of the garden.  On nights when I couldn’t sleep, I would add to the story.  Finally I decided to write it all down in my computer. The decision to publish my story came much later.  I had considered an idea for a different type of book, and, not knowing just what to expect in publishing something, I decided to use my little story as a trial to find out. “Homer’s Big Adventure” is the result.