Students get 'zany' about reading

Literacy Night at the Lawrence school encourages kids to read


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  • Photo by Viktoria-Leigh Wagner Casey de Waal of Wantage helps his children, Sawyer, 3, and Ayyla, 6, at Literacy Night.




  • Photo by Viktoria-Leigh Wagner Preschoolers through third-graders are shown in their pajamas at Literacy Night.



A "Zany Zoo" came to the Clfton E. Lawrence School on March 6 for a family reading night.

The event is held once a year to celebrate the "joy and excitement" of reading Principal Barbara Cimorelli said. Ten different books about animals were read to parents and their children.

“It started more than 15 years ago through a New Jersey Education Association initiative with the help of our librarian at the time, Anne Cook,” Cimorelli said. “In November, our students voted for their favorite book out of two, and the winner happened to be about animals, resulting in a zoo-themed literacy night.”

Love of Reading Week (Feb. 28-March 7) began with a Cat in the Hat visit to the school. Monday, the students participated in a reading train, Tuesday was Read-Me Day where students wore shirts with words on them to school and Wednesday preschool teacher Pam Cordts dressed as the character Giuseppe from the story Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler, Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business by Esphyr Slobodkina.

Thursday, the students celebrated Dr. Seuss’s birthday with cake and the ‘Enthusiastic Readers,’ students recommended by teachers who have shown extra enthusiasm for reading, received a certificate for their literacy dedication and had lunch with Cimorelli. On the last day, students brought in a stuffed animal from home.

“The whole week is wonderful,” Cimorelli said.

Librarian Jennifer Paolucci of Wantage coordinated the literacy night.

“I make sure to pick the books parents and their children can choose from and secure classroom decorators, parent volunteers and ten readers,” she said.

Gina Benson has been working as a Clifton E. Lawrence School kindergarten teacher two years.

“We read Xander’s Panda Party by Linda Sue Park,” she said. “Afterwards, my group made either a monkey, lion, tiger or elephant puppet. I think with this kind of event, it’s all about the excitement of making the story come alive for the kids.”

Benson says at the kindergarten level, students are just learning how to sound out words and letters.

"We’re learning to blend and recognize high-frequency words,” she said.

Wantage dad Casey de Waal attended the event with son Sawyer, 3 and daughter Ayya, 6.

“My wife Laura works in the district,” he said. “It’s a big community reading night, so we decided to pop in and say hi. Both Sawyer and Ayya enjoy reading very much.”

Debbie Gaudio has been teaching speech therapy at the school for more than 20 years.

“We read Zoo Song by Barbara Bottner and acted it out for the kids,” said Gaudio, who portrayed a zebra to replace the hippo from the story. “Principal Cimorelli was the narrator, our librarian Jennifer Paolucci was the lion, and preschool teacher Laura de Waal was the bear.”

Adele Sweeten, also of Wantage, said her son Aaron, 6, already can read to her.

“He’s got his sight words, alright," she said. "His favorite book is Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff, and he’s doing well.”


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