Young readers at Glenwood Springs Elementary School get a surprise |

Young readers at Glenwood Springs Elementary School get a surprise

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler/Post IndependentGlenwood Springs Elementary preschoolers, from left, Brallen Hernandez, Nayelli Martinez, Katie Ray and Sam Spence, crowd around a box containing a surprise during class on Thursday afternoon. The box contained bags filled with books for each student provided by the Raising a Reader Program.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Lois Foraker asked her preschool students at Glenwood Springs Elementary School to gather around the table in the middle of the classroom Thursday morning. A cartoonish red gift with yellow ribbon was in the center of the table and had the students wondering what it could possibly hold.

“What do you think is inside the box?” Foraker asked her attentive students.

“A skeleton,” answered 4-year-old Kallan Meyer.

Four-year-old Madelyn Chance guessed, or maybe hoped, that the box was filled with toys, while classmate Conor Donahue, 4, guessed the package held a lion.

“Those were amazing guesses,” Foraker responded as she heaved the package up and placed it on the floor in front of the students. “Whatever it is, it’s really heavy.”

But she was stalling, and the students knew it.

“Can we open it?” one little girl finally asked. And the rest of the group agreed.

And the paper was torn until the red and yellow wrapping was gone, revealing the brown box beneath and its contents.

As Foraker opened the box she told the students that whatever was inside was “magical and wonderful,” and the kids gathered around in anticipation.

The gift held red book bags given to the kids through the Raising A Reader program. Entering its fifth year, Raising A Reader’s “Read to Me” red book bags were distributed to 1,500 children in 90 classrooms from Aspen to Parachute. The program involves preschools, child-care centers, Head Starts, Even Starts and family child-care homes in 10 communities of Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties.

It’s a program that has swiftly grown in the five years it’s been encouraging younger children to read.

“I think it’s just the chance to have really good literature brought into your home that you can share with your child,” Foraker said.

In each of the bags students received two English language books, one bilingual book and a Spanish language book to also encourage bilingual education. The program’s target is students of low-income families, at-risk children, English as a second language, and families with two parents working or single-parent families.

“It appeals to everyone,” Foraker said. “And the books are really high quality.”

This year, Foraker estimated, Read to Me students will take home more than 100 books through the program. And it’s a program that Foraker supports very much by witnessing its success firsthand.

“It’s a way to get reading into a lot of families when the students are really young,” Foraker said. “It all ties in with literacy and the things we do here at the school. It’s a great follow-up at home.”

Foraker also supports programs like the Read to Me red book bags because of how it promotes reading.

“I think people are realizing now that they have to start reading to their kids when they are way younger,” Foraker said. “These kids are really bright, and they need the stimulus of having books around.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO

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