Hamilton kicks off ‘I Love to Read‘ program

Hamilton Elementary School, Coon Rapids, kicked off its “I Love to Read” month activities Jan. 31 with a family reading night.

Kerry Offerdahl and her daughter, Abby, 7, came to family reading night at Hamilton Elementary School, Coon Rapids, Jan. 31.
Kerry Offerdahl and her daughter, Abby, 7, came to family reading night at Hamilton Elementary School, Coon Rapids, Jan. 31.

Following a light dinner, students and their parents took part in two reading sessions based on the students’ grade level.

There were specific family reading sessions in different classrooms for kindergarten-first grade students and second- through fifth-grade students.

They were followed by opportunities for parents to listen to their students read in the cafeteria and practice re-read.

And each student went home with a copy of the book “Stuart Little,” by E.B. White.

This is the first time that Hamilton has had a family reading night as part of its annual “I Love to Read” program in February.

What made it possible was a decision of the Anoka-Hennepin School District last school year to make Hamilton a Title 1 school, whereby all the students in the school could take advantage of the supplementing teaching help that the Title 1 program provides, especially in reading and math, not just a few, according to Principal Diane Merritt.

With its Title 1 designation, the school has received an allocation of federal and state dollars for programs like the family reading night and the book distribution, Merritt said.

“Stuart Little” was chosen not only because it appropriate for all grades, but it came with supporting materials, said Gloria Teske, who has been a supplemental teacher at Hamilton for 39 years.

More than 400 copies of the book were purchased to be given to the students, she said.

In addition, parents went home with a raft of materials designed get them involved in helping their child learn to read.

“Our goal is to get kids reading as well as to build community,” Teske said.

According to Teske, the focus on kindergarten and first-grade children is the beginning, middle and end of the story.

For second- through fifth-grade students, comprehension is emphasized through a five-finger retell process in which the students focus on characters, setting, problem, events and ending, Teske said.

“Comprehension is the biggest hurdle in teaching children to read,” she said.

According to Karla Dahlheimer, lead teacher in the supplemental program, students are required to read anywhere from 500 to 700 minutes during “I Love to Read” month, depending on grade level.

An awards program will take place in March to recognize students who reached their target, Merritt said.

But before that on Feb. 15, author/illustrator David LaRochelle will visit each grade level and autograph his books for students.

For the dinner, McDonald’s donated the juice and Angeno’s of Brooklyn Park the pizza.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]