It is November, which means it is officially Little Read month! At Ready for School, we are so excited to partner and participate with Little Read Lakeshore during this month-long celebration of reading. This year’s programming is focused on Matt de la Peña’s book Last Stop on Market Street.
Ready for School’s mission is “to PREPARE CHILDREN up to five years old for success in kindergarten by the integrated SUPPORT of the Holland, Zeeland, and Hamilton communities” and the Little Read Lakeshore is “a community-wide reading program that creates and fosters a culture in which reading matters to children’s families and those who support, advocate for and work with children.” From reading these statements hopefully, you can start to imagine what can be done for the community when Ready for School and Little Read Lakeshore partner together.
As Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshores’ partnership enters its seventh year, I have three big takeaways.
1. Supporting Educators Is Important
While the Little Read Lakeshore provides a book for the community to read, along with questions to consider while reading the book, a wonder may arise as to how the book gets into classrooms. However, the goal is not that the book only physically ends up in the classroom. Rather, since part of the Little Read Lakeshore’s goal is to foster a culture in which reading matters, children need to be able to connect with the book in a way that is meaningful to them. Educators are masters at finding new and different ways to help children connect with books, but being realistic, our educators are strapped for time (this might very well be an understatement in itself). Enter the partnership between Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshore.
Over the past five years Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshore created professional development opportunities for preschool through 5th-grade educators that offered ways to incorporate the book into their curriculum. Over the years Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshore partnered with individuals from eight different local community organizations to provide trainers for the professional development.
In the five years that Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshore hosted professional development trainings, we supported the continued professional development of 150 educators. And by the way, the pandemic did not slow us down, we just got creative and offered it in ways that made teachers feel engaged and safe.
2. Books Open Up Possibilities
Children are drawn to a book and develop a sense of being by finding ways they connect with it. But, what does that statement mean? It means Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshore know that a story becomes more important and will stay with a child if they can relate to the story and its characters.
Over the years Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshore continued to think of different ways to help children see themselves as a reader. This was done some years by Ready for School partnering with local preschools and Herrick District Library to have book clubs for parents about the Little Read Lakeshore book. Book clubs support parents in two ways: they model how to engage children with books and bring a sense of community around reading.
This year Ready for School is working with the Little Read Lakeshore to bring this year’s author, Matt de la Peña, to Holland on November 9th. Author events are amazing because they motivate writing for children. Children learn authors are people, and they too need to work to get their stories from their heads onto paper. As much as stories are magical, magic is not what makes a story come to life. Lastly, author events help children to see everyone has a story, and stories are meant to be shared. Ready for School and Little Read Lakeshore work together to promote the importance of everyone’s stories.
3. Partnerships are crucial!
Over the seven years Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshore worked together, the partnership bloomed and flourished. Excitement grew and more community partners were brought in to offer different and unique programming that worked to foster the idea that reading matters. Now, thanks to hard work, 50 community organizations and 30 schools participate in the Little Read Lakeshore month-long programming during November.
A thriving community requires mutually invested parties. Ready for School and the Little Read Lakeshore came together over the mutual goal of uplifting our youngest readers. We hope to see you at one of the many events this November.
By: Megan Koops-Fisher
Megan Koops-Fischer is the Director of Operations and Strategic Partnerships at Ready for School, who lives a life of adventure through all the wonderful books in the world.