Family Literacy Night offers activities, resources and books to Baraboo-area families

February 26, 2019

A weeklong celebration for Read Across America will culminate Thursday in Baraboo schools’ first districtwide Family Literacy Night, with stations for dozens of activities, local groups and books to be read aloud.

“It’s just a way to celebrate literacy,” said Karin Exo, district reading specialist and East Elementary School literacy coach.

This is the first year the district’s literacy coaches, led by Jaclyn Beall of Gordon L. Willson Elementary School, are doing a combined effort to celebrate Read Across America, Exo said. Each day will have different activities for students, including door decorating, dress-up days, and “read-ins” where everyone will “drop everything and read.”

Family Literacy Night, meant to support everyone at the same time and in the same place, will be the biggest event of the week. It will be geared toward children of all ages — from newborns to high schoolers — as well as parents.

Beall said before this year, each Baraboo school held its own literacy event with varying attendance.

“What’s cool is that all these different families come,” Beall said. “So usually you can have a mom who’s pregnant or has a baby on her hip, has kids all the way up, and (at) this one, they can all come through together and walk around to all the different activities, so it’s really for the whole family.”

And it’s not just for families in the district. Beall said she reached out to local parochial school principals, and she and fellow literacy coach Laura Rhode have gone door to door asking downtown businesses to post their fliers in both English and Spanish.

“Because we don’t have the social media option anymore, we are going old-school,” Beall said. The district’s Facebook account has been deactivated since November due to the aftermath of a viral photo of Baraboo students.

Organizers welcome everyone to attend the event Thursday because “we want to increase literacy for every single student,” Beall said. She noted they will have resources for parents, such as what they can do to foster early literacy or nurture their child’s education.

Scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m., event activities will sprawl both levels of the recently renovated Baraboo High School Commons.

On the first level, BHS student Jacob Carignan will perform a magic show at 5 and 6 p.m. — “he’s fabulous,” Exo said. There also will be presentations by forensics teams, a photo booth, a writing station, craft stations, a “tot spot” for the youngest attendees, a booth for aspiring educators and booths for the Baraboo Public Library, the Boys & Girls Club and the Baraboo Children’s Museum. Popcorn will be available for snacking.

Upstairs, attendees will find a station on how to read food labels, a “bookwalk” — like a cake walk carnival game but where the prizes are books — arts and crafts with the North Freedom Public Library and a station for high school students to make theatrical trailers for books.

Seventeen volunteers — from teachers, administrators and board members to students — will read books aloud for various age groups throughout the night on the upper level. For the high school and older audience, BHS senior Evan Lee will read excerpts from a book he wrote and self-published.

Everyone, regardless of age, will leave the event with a free book. Beall said organizers have more than 1,000 books to give away. Trinity Episcopal Church in Baraboo donated around 200, she noted, and Madison’s Half Price Books also contributed.

“It’s great and all — teaching parents how to work with their kids, but if they don’t have a book that they can take home and add to their library, that’s like the missing piece,” Beall said. “They have to have a book that they can practice these skills in, so it’s really important for us that everyone leaves with a book.”

The National Education Association created Read Across America to motivate children to read on March 2 every year, the birthday of children’s author Dr. Seuss. While his birthday is Saturday, Read Across America will be on Friday this year.