Students sitting down for library night

Buckland Mills Elementary School recently hosted Kindergarten Night at the Library, an event designed to introduce the library and the importance of reading to parents of the school’s youngest students. After families explored the library, students gathered on the floor in front of an interactive whiteboard to start off the evening. Here they could easily view the pages of books being read or discussed by Tammy Hinkle, librarian and Elizabeth Beckman, reading teacher.

Hinkle introduced the book “Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes,” by James Dean and Eric Litwin. Reading aloud while turning the pages, students were able to follow along by viewing the images and text, while becoming more and more interested in Pete’s adventures. The book is designed to invoke questions from its readers about the colors of different objects as the cat steps into piles of fruits and other messy items. Hinkle didn’t miss an opportunity to encourage questions and responded to each in turn.

“We started Kindergarten Night at the Library years ago. We wanted to have a fun and engaging evening for the children and parents, but also a way for us to model for the parents how children at this age learn to read. We have many kindergarteners who will say, ‘I can't read.’ But they can! They can read the pictures, they can find sight words, and they can retell a story they have heard. Those are the foundational skills we want to model for the parents so they can help plant that love of reading right along with the library. Reading is the greatest gift we can give our children,” shared Hinkle.

Beckman led the students through “Fox and Hen Together,” a book by Béatrice Rodriguez. The wordless book uses just illustrations to tell the story about the adventures of three friends, a fox, a hen, and a crab. The children were skillfully guided through each page prompted by the teacher as to what they thought was happening and encouraging them to speculate what may happen next.

Beckman, explained,  “Wordless books tell the story through illustrations, and they are excellent for literacy development because they support storytelling and build comprehension skills. These books are highly engaging, and students can use their imaginations along with the pictures to tell a story in their own way. Wordless books can be enjoyed by students of all ages while also using critical thinking skills and creativity.”

Parents had a front row seat to observe the three ways children learn to read. One is reading the pictures, like in the fox, hen and crab story. Another is by reading aloud while pointing out sight words, as in the “Pete the Cat” book. Lastly, children learn to read by retelling a story, even if they are unable to read the words yet. 

Carry, a parent, expressed her delight with the event, “It was great to get to know the librarians. I appreciate learning the different ways to read with my kids and the time and effort they spent to do this.”

“I loved witnessing how focused the children became and how well each story was delivered,” added another parent, Holly.

Kindergarten student Emon shared , “The crafting was my favorite part. It helped me remember the story.”

To wrap up the evening, children and parents crafted special hats inspired by “Pete the Cat” and then were invited to select and check out a book to take home to read together. Some students couldn’t wait and were seen snuggled on a parent’s lap in a cozy corner of the library transported to a faraway land in the pages of their book.