WEST PITTSTON — Students at the Montgomery Avenue Elementary School celebrated Thursday as the month of April signifies National Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) month across the county.
As the skies opened with a little rain late in the afternoon, students made their way out to the front lawn to read for 10 minutes. West Pittston Library’s Youth Service Director Summer Belles has coordinated the event for the past three years at the school.
Belles likes to see children read any chance they get, no matter the platform.
“I am not concerned with what they are reading,” she said. “I don’t think it matters much. They can read a newspaper, comic books or magazines. You can go anywhere in a book.”
The program, a month-long celebration of reading, is designed for all ages to make reading a priority.
Each student chose a book and many of them could be seen reading aloud on the lawn while dozens of parents showed up to cheer them along. Belles said passersby were encouraged to “honk for reading” and horns were heard up and down Wyoming Avenue.
“It’s just to draw attention to reading and it’s something to be involved in your life every day,” Belles said. “We’re just taking a reading break.”
Susan Bartoli is a first-grade teacher at the school. When the call came for the students to head outside for the program, her class was studying mathematics. Bartoli said it was a nice relief for the students.
“They enjoy this because they don’t have to work on the math right now,” she laughed. “It’s some place different for them to read.”
In Bartoli’s class, the students enjoy a variety of books — with subjects on everything from animals to biographies. Recently, the class did research papers on animals.
“They are learning everything they can right now so reading is at the top of the list,” Bartoli said. “If they don’t take the time to read, it will hurt them as they move forward.”
Montgomery Avenue Principal Joe Long said this is the first year he has been involved with the event, having assumed his position last year.
“It’s a great thing for the kids and it helps them understand the importance of reading and sends the message that we want our kids to be good readers,” he said. “They are all coming in smiling with their favorite books.”
Belles sent home letters to families asking them to stop and check out the event. She asked them to honk their horns and have the students wear green, saying the eye is most attracted that color.
Reach Nick Wagner at 570-991-6406 or on Twitter @Dispatch_Nick