Friday, March 1 was the kick off for Read Across America at California Avenue Elementary School from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The campaign, which is a national reading event, puts the focus on reading for fun and Riverbank schools have been participating in it for the past six years. To get a local feel for the celebration of reading in the month of March, the afterschool program calls the event Read Across Riverbank (RAR).
The gym at California Avenue was filled with students participating in different activities at tables that were set up. The theme for this year’s RAR event is Celebrating our Differences. The program selected the theme because they are trying to communicate and connect with a sorority at Stanislaus State in Turlock that celebrates autism awareness in the month of March. Some of the Stan State students in the sorority are residents of Riverbank, and wanted to bridge both the events together. The table that was the most popular seemed to be the table with the books. After the students read a book they fill out a blue slip stating the author, the title, a brief description of the book they just read and their information. Every time they read a book this month, they will fill out a blue slip and put it into the jar. The elementary schools in the Riverbank Unified School District will all compete to see how many books each school can read in the month. The school that reads the most will receive some type of celebration for the entire school, like an ice cream social. The challenge is called ‘Books in a Jar.’ Every week they will tally up the blue slips to keep track of where each school is in the book challenge. The students will receive the information on Monday so that they know where they are at and if they need to pick up the pace.
The afterschool program is also planning fun Fridays, where they will have a read-a-thon and read books all day so they can add them to the jar. They will also have literacy activities every Friday as well as reading. The literacy activities at the tables will include reading, coloring, pasting, and doing some crafts. Outside for the March 1 kickoff, they had a spelling game set up. The afterschool advisor gave the students a word and then the students would have to run to a white board and spell it correctly and faster than the other student they were racing. Health Net brought their mascot Benny Fit the frog to visit the students and promote health and reading. Riverbank Language Academy won the reading challenge last year with over a thousand books read.
Several local businesses are promoting the RAR this month by offering incentives. On Mondays, if students are caught reading in line at Round Table Pizza, they will receive a coupon for a free personal pizza for their next visit. Jack in the Box has given the schools coupons so teachers can pass them out when they catch students reading. Save Mart will be displaying the students favorite books on their wall.