December 20, 2012


McGraw gives gift of reading

Students receive gift-wrapped books as school promotes literacy

ReadingBob Ellis/staff photographer
Alison Raus, 4, flips through her new book Wednesday during a book giveaway at McGraw Elementary School.

Staff Reporter

McGRAW — Santa Claus was at the McGraw Elementary School gymnasium Wednesday to greet children and give away gift-wrapped books.
The school district’s Books Under the Tree event brought hundreds of people to the school for activities such as face painting, games and creating holiday ornaments, with each pupil in grades one through eight receiving a book through a federal literacy grant.
The district has received a $500,000 grant to promote innovative approaches to reading and writing. Superintendent of Schools Mary Curcio said Wednesday’s event will be followed by two more book giveaways, in February and later in the spring.
Curcio said the district used some grant money to purchase about $1,600 worth of books at a discount from the Scholastic Press warehouse in Liverpool. She said some books would also be placed in the two school libraries and the resource room for Community Action Program of Cortland County, or CAPCO, which is at the elementary school.
The grant also is paying for a librarian and a staff member who will visit families’ homes to discuss reading as a family.
“The big thing is to get books in the hands of kids,” Curcio said.
The district promoted the event as similar to the school’s spring carnival, but with books as an added benefit. The cafeteria had stations where children could make a felt owl head or have a paper Christmas tree get a splash of paint from a turning wheel. The gym had a bean bag toss, basketball throw, fishing for prizes, story books and face painting.
About 200 books sat next to the gym entrance, ready to be given out by Santa Claus after being chosen by teacher Jacquie Niver and teaching assistant Jan Anderson. The books had been wrapped by National Honor Society members from McGraw High School and then labeled for boys or girls, with the grade range.
Kaden Eaton, 3, beamed as he unwrapped a book of Mother Goose stories with a clock attached. His brother Ivan, 6, looked at a book about sea animals with a case of small models attached, that could be painted.
Their parents, Amy and Jeromy Eaton, grinned as the boys squatted on the gym floor and examined the books. They said the boys like books about trucks and tractors.
“Plus this is a safe environment to be in,” said Jeromy Eaton, looking around the crowded gym. “It’s a lot better than kids roaming the streets.”
Joanna Moon brought her sons Sam, 3, and Zachary, 5. She said they love reading, “anything to do with trucks, police, things like that.”
Curcio said it was encouraging to see so many boys excited about books. Boys tend to read much less than girls, national studies have shown.
Curcio said the federal Common Core Standards, adopted as the basis for New York state’s approach to curriculum, are basing literacy more in nonfiction than previously, partly because boys prefer nonfiction over fiction.
Nonfiction also is more likely to incorporate other subjects such as science and history, which helps with the new integrated approach to curriculum.


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