St. Anthony School boosts readership with students’ families

December 7, 2018

As technology continues advancing, St. Anthony Elementary School Principal Amy Sokol said it’s easy for students to get into the bad habit of not reading books.

“I think that we have so much technology, videos and so much stuff that sometimes we lose the value of a book,” Sokol said.

Although the school has been hosting a Scholastic Book Fair for several years, teachers wanted to find more proactive ways to encourage students to immerse themselves in books.

Searching for ideas, they came up with the “Cozy Up With a Good Book” initiative during the 2017-2018 school year. The initiative takes place during the book fair and involves students’ family members getting directly involved in the process by visiting the school and reading with their loved ones while enjoying a cup of hot chocolate and cookies. Attendees are also given the option of participating in a variety of Christmas-themed crafting activities.

The fair, which started Wednesday, continues in conjunction with “Cozy Up With a Good Book” throughout the rest of the week, from 3-5:30 p.m. on Thursday and 9-11 a.m. and 3-5:30 p.m. on Friday.

“It’s just to celebrate books,” said Sokol, noting the book fair is an added incentive for families and students to purchase reading materials. “That’s what it’s all about … You can never go wrong by buying a child a book … It lets their imaginations run wild, takes them to wherever they want it to take them.”

Sokol said it’s good for parents to be positive role models and lead by example.

Several parents were seen Wednesday morning reading and creating Christmas crafts with their children. Those in attendance included Tami Schroeder, mother of a second-grade student, and Julie Urkoski, mother of a first-grader.

“It keeps them off the video games,” Schroeder chuckled while sitting next to her son, Layne Hollmann.

In the wake of their children participating in last year’s initiative, Schroeder and Urkoski both said they’ve noticed an increase in their children’s willingness to dive into a book.

“(Layne) likes to pick up a good book and we read a lot at night,” Schroeder said.

Urkoski attended the event for the first time this year to spend time with her son, Joe. His grandmother accompanied him last year, she noted.

“This is important because it encourages reading,” Urkoski said, adding the initiative prompts other family members to get involved, as well. “It shows the kids that parents are taking the time to come and spend it with them, and learn about the books ...”

Sokol said she believes the initiative has heightened students’ interest in reading. During free time, Sokol said she sees students enjoying books with their snacks in hand.

And with the school receiving an assortment of book donations from the community during the year, Sokol said students have a variety of reading materials to peruse through.

“Just getting the opportunity of getting a book into a student’s hands,” she said. “I just think that’s the greatest thing in the whole world … and to get them excited about reading.”

Sokol said the book fair – where a percentage of proceeds collected go back to the school – benefits the school, family members and ultimately, the children.

“We love the book fair,” Urkoski said. “It gives us a variety of different books and prizes, and things that the kids can look at and purchase. It just encourages reading and I am all about that.”

Although visitors are welcome to shop for books and stationery, Sokol said it’s also an opportunity to show off the school and the different programs it provides.

“I love showcasing our school,” Sokol said. “We are proud of what we have here and this is just a great opportunity for us to invite people in.”

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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