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February 23, 2019

An enchanted literacy night to remember

By Joseph Ramos, AmeriCorps site coordinator, Seattle

Ever wonder what it would be like to step into a real-life literary enchanted forest? Well, the students, staff, and community of Sanislo Elementary School in West Seattle got to find out during its annual literacy night.

This year’s theme was Enchanted Forest, and Sanislo was filled with incredible stations created with promoting literacy in mind. From writing a poem and hanging it on the Poet-Tree to storytelling in the Reading Castle, students and their families were able to celebrate literacy in a truly enjoyable and unusual way.

Passports to literary fun

Students were given literary passports to explore the fantastical literary world around them. After visiting each themed-station and accomplishing associated skill-building tasks, the station coordinator would sticker their passport, and off they would go. Every five station visits allowed them to put their names in a drawing for a secret prize (what book would they win?). With this prize in mind, students zoomed through the halls from station to station. Whether making their own origami bookmark or joining a Reader’s Theater production of The Paperbag Princess, there was something for every student and their families.

A community effort

Americorps members from Cityear and Reading Partners helped plan and run the event, along with the incredible support of Reading Partners volunteers.

“What a night!” said Tasha Mosher, a second-year Reading Partner. “I have never been to such a sweet event promoting literacy.”

Both Tasha and five-year volunteer, Laura White, helped students create their own paper bag puppets that could be used for story time at home.

In the Reading Partners’ reading center, volunteers Rachel Baker and Matt Groshong, along with Matt’s wife Kathleen Groshong, transformed the space into a read-aloud theater, guiding students and families through multiple theatrical runs of The Paperbag Princess and other fairy tales. All were invited to join in and make the story their own.

“It was a wonderful evening”, exclaimed Rachel, another second-year reading partner.

Creating an educational night to remember

“I so enjoyed interacting with students and their families. What a special event.” said Cassy Charyn, executive director of Reading Partners Seattle. Students joined Cassy in the cardboard castle for story time featuring exceptional fluency and expression in some classic tales. “This was one of the most impressive literacy nights I have ever experienced!” Cassy said. “There were so many different stations, and the enchanted forest theme was brilliant. It was fun to watch students share their love of books with their younger siblings, too.”  

Overall, literacy night was a success, bringing students and their families together in celebration of reading. The Sanislo community works hard to make literacy a priority for its students, and with the help of some incredible Reading Partners volunteers, it was truly a memorable night.

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