Each year, The International Preschools hosts an event called the Fathers and Special Friends Read-Aloud. It was created ten years ago to foster a love of reading in young children. Because, in the past, mothers and female relatives had often made up the majority of guest readers, the Fathers and Special Friends Read-Aloud provided an opportunity for fathers, as well as other male relatives and friends (brothers, grandfathers, uncles, neighbors, etc.), to model positive feelings about reading to preschoolers. Currently, our Read-Aloud occurs in conjunction with the author and literary studies that take place in the Green (3s), Pre-K (4s), and Junior K (4s/5s) classrooms during the winter months.
To celebrate the Read-Aloud’s ten year anniversary, a special commemoration was held at IPS’ 86th Street location on Saturday, November 3rd. Chris Raschka, a children’s book author, visited our school to sign autographs and read several books that he has written and illustrated, including Charlie Parker Played Be-Bop and Yo! Yes? Parents and children participated in the readings and watched as Chris created a drawing of his cat, Apollo, step by step!
Over the next several weeks, male readers will schedule a visit to their child’s IPS classroom and read a book to the class. In the Green Rooms (3s), books read aloud have been written by the author that the class is currently studying. Previous years’ author studies have included the writings of Mo Willems, Dr. Seuss, Karma Wilson, Jan Brett, Eric Carle, and Maurice Sendak. By focusing on a particular author, and by participating in activities within the classrooms related to the books, children are able to learn about characters via role play (by acting out scenes from books read aloud in the dramatic play area) and picture walks (making up a story by looking at the pages prior to hearing the words read aloud). They also will pick up on literary skills such as rhyming and sight words.
In the Pre-K (4s) and Junior K (4s/5s), the literacy study centers around a chapter book chosen by the teachers. Visitors will read one chapter aloud to the class on their assigned day. Reading aloud from a chapter book allows children to hone in on their listening comprehension skills; because they cannot use illustrations for context clues, children will depend upon their auditory abilities to interpret the story. A great imagination is required (and developed) as well; when there are no pictures, children have the freedom to create what the characters and settings look like in their minds!
Special thanks to our librarian, MacKerrow Talcott, for orchestrating the wonderful Chris Raschka/IPS community event. MacKerrow, who is also the 2018 IPS Elizabeth Patrick Leadership Award winner, played an important role in creating the Fathers and Special Friends Read-Aloud ten years ago (and keeping it alive today!). What began as chapter book read-alouds in our oldest classrooms has now trickled down into our three-year-old programs, and has remained wildly popular while promoting the importance of immersing children in literacy at a young age.
More photos from the Tenth Anniversary Read-Aloud event:
To learn more about our school, visit our website at https://www.ipsnyc.org