Story time at Sullivan
Monsters took center stage recently at an online read-aloud session at Springfield Housing Authority’s Sullivan Apartments.
The session, organized by the Talk/Read/Succeed! family early literacy program at Sullivan, was led by Springfield City Library Children’s Librarian Talin Linina.
SHA Executive Director Denise R. Jordan said the focus continues to be on early literacy with T/R/S!, which has moved many programs online to engage children during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Our efforts to encourage a love of reading among our children has not slowed down despite the obstacles posed by Covid-19,” Jordan said. “We’re always happy to collaborate with the City Library in those efforts.”
The recent read-aloud was the last of three sessions at Sullivan, where children and their parents Zoomed in for about an hour of fun. The read-alouds each had a theme, with the first one being spring, the second, animals, and the third, monsters.
T/R/S! Outreach Coordinator Zenaida Burgos said she reached out to the City Library as one of many recent ventures intended to keep Sullivan children reading, and to expose them to new books.
“I was so excited to collaborate with the City Library on this activity,” Burgos said. “The children who participated really enjoyed it, and the parents were also happy that their children had a story time like this.
“Seeing the bright smiles on the children’s faces made it all worth it,” she added.
For sure, children in each session smiled and made appropriate faces as Linina read book after book. Each reading was followed by stretching exercises, in many cases matching the storyline of the book.
During the monster themed read-aloud, Linina called upon children to make their most monster faces, or biggest monster smiles.
“We try to make the read-alouds fun for children, to keep them engaged and energetic about the books and about reading and storytelling,” Linina explained.
She noted that being under Covid-19 restrictions has made contact with children more challenging. Online gatherings such as read-alouds pose specific issues in terms of keeping young readers engaged.
“When you’re a child, it’s really hard to sit still and listen, especially when you’re together on a screen,” she said. “I figure, taking a break between each story and getting them to move around and get silly is a fun way to keep things moving.”
Linina said the T/R/S! program initiated the read-alouds, reaching out to the City Library for help.
“I was just so happy when Zenaida contacted us to set up some virtual story times,” she said. “Our whole mission is to provide services to the community, and help out in whatever the need is. When you have someone identifying the need, that’s just great.”
Children themselves attested to the overall fun of the online program.
“I love hearing Talin read to us on video,” said five-year-old Reynaldo Figueroa. “It was so fun – hooray!”
His mother, Wanda Figueroa, said, “I really enjoyed the sessions and watching my son participate. That was great. It was a good program. It was nice seeing my child talk with the facilitator and practice. You could see it improved his vocabulary. He had a lot of fun.”
Mother Yomary Smith also said that her two daughters enjoyed the virtual reading time. Her youngest, two-year-old Yareliz Vazquez, raised her arms, making circles and clapping as the books were read aloud.
“She was very attentive to the Zoom video. It is her first Zoom, and seeing how much she enjoyed it, I will have her participate in any other programs,” Smith said.
Her other daughter, Joeliani Roche, who is 10, also loved the program.
“She participates in most of all TRS activities and she will continue participating. She enjoys all of Zenaida’s programs,” Smith said.
For the monster session, books read were ‘I’m Not Cute’ by Jonathan Allen, ‘Monster Trouble’ by Lane Fredrickson, ‘Leonardo the Terrible Monster’ by Mo Williams, and ‘If You’re a Monster and You Know It’ by Rebecca Emberly and Ed Emberly.
Burgos said the T/R/S! program will continue its push for family-based early literacy.
The program unites housing with schools and other agencies, underway for the past 11 years. It partners SHA’s Sullivan Apartments with the nearby Boland Elementary School, Duggan Park Apartments and Indian Orchard Elementary School, and Robinson Gardens Apartments with Dorman Elementary School.
“T/R/S! will continue to promote literacy in any way that we can continue to reach the children,” Burgos said. “I want to thank the City Library for its ongoing support and I look forward to continue to collaborate in the future with them.”
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