Students in KidWorks’ state-licensed preschool had an important decision to make earlier this month. Would they rather spend time chatting with the Cat in the Hat, or meet with police officers, fire fighters, bankers, actors and others in professions they might one day like to enter?
The good news is that they didn’t have to pick at all. They enjoyed all of these choices and more during a national reading week event that celebrated the wonderful books written by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Geisel). Schools, community centers and other educational organizations across the nation participate in Reading Week and KidWorks was proud to be a part of the movement.
At KidWorks, reading week is a major celebration. “Each year, the KidWorks preschool team puts together a special program to celebrate National Reading Week,” says teacher Minda Barrera-Vargas. “While we concentrate on reading throughout the year, that week we focus on Dr. Seuss. He is special because of the uniqueness and creativity of his beloved books.”
This year, the week included a special visit by the Cat in the Hat (played by preschool volunteer Mr. David Medrano) and Thing 1 and Thing 2 (played by KidWorks teachers Ms. Brizzy Cruz and Ms. Sonia Rios during the AM session and KidWorks Preschool volunteers Lidia Lau and Paola Navarro in the afternoon), all dressed in full costume. Students also got to experience eating green eggs and ham, as mentioned in the book "Green Eggs and Ham."
Our preschoolers were also delighted to welcome wonderful KidWorks supporters who read them Dr. Seuss stories who came from throughout Orange County to participate in the event. They were also thrilled to each receive a book donated by Creative Teaching Lab to take home and practice reading.
“What makes Dr. Seuss’ stories so perfect for young readers is that it helps children to know that each of us has original ideas and that God takes joy in making us all different in special ways,” says Idalia Galdamez, Preschool Director. “None of the characters in his books are exactly the same, and this teaches the kids to be proud of their own uniqueness.”
Having people from so many professions read to the preschoolers had another important benefit. They met role models in professions that include firefighting, law enforcement, education, journalism and more.
“Many of our volunteer readers shared with the preschoolers how staying in school and going on to higher education made their careers possible,” Minda said. “So, in addition to gaining an increased appreciation for reading, the youngsters learned an important lesson about the value of a good education.”
Even though the special reading week has concluded this year, the focus on reading in our preschool is part of the curriculum every day school is in session. Reading is essential to healthy early childhood development. Students need to both hear and recognize letters and words by sight so they are prepared for Kindergarten in the fall.
“Each child enrolled in our program takes home a bag with four books and a journal sheet of paper in their folders so that children can draw about their favorite book,” Minda said. “At the KidWorks preschool, we know firsthand that a love of reading that’s established at the earliest grade level leads to a lifetime of literacy and a love of the written word.”
By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer