By: Gaby Rattner
Travel is among my favorite things to do. The excitement of seeing new places and exploring new cultures is a joy for me like no other. When I was younger, though, I didn’t have the means to tour the world. Instead, I read.
Novels transported me to London, Paris, South America, Scotland, Los Angeles, ancient Greece. So etched in my mind were the places described in these books that when I was at last able to visit them in person, I felt as if I already knew their landmarks, their people, and their food.
My love of reading has never left me. And now, thanks to some of the programs we offer at CCI, I’m able to help share that love with others who, like me, want to grow and explore even if they don’t have the opportunity to leave the place we call home.
CCI does this through several initiatives. In one program, our elementary school students visit with senior citizens to read to them and be read to in return. Sometimes they expand on their readings by dramatizing them as mini plays.
The benefits are many, starting with the basics. Says Linda, one of our participating seniors, “It’s important to their success for the kids to be able to read. I look forward [each week] to coming and helping them improve their lives.” Much of that improvement stems from the bonds of friendship forged between the young and old, bonds that bring joy and laughter to all involved.
We also hold a book club for adults with disabilities. Led by Ed Morrissey from Greenwich Library, the group chooses a book to read together and then watches a movie based on their readings. A recent fave: the classic 1877 novel Black Beauty, written by the English author Anna Sewell in the last months of her life. It’s a favorite of mine too; a book I’ve often given as a gift.
In the summertime our CCI kids read in different settings. A favorite among kids and staff alike is Thursday “Reading with Dogs. ” Kids sprawl across our front lawn reading stories of their choice to therapy dogs brought to us by wonderful owners. Dogs (and the occasional rabbit), we find, are thoroughly non-judgmental and so make a phenomenal audience.
To mark our sixty-fifth anniversary this year, we’re joining with Julian Curtiss School, the International School at Dundee, and New Lebanon School to sponsor a month-long celebration of reading called “65 Ways to Be a Reader.” Says Julian Curtiss Reading Specialist Grace Blomberg, “We are perpetually grateful for the way CCI works to support our students and families. After a great brainstorming session, we feel we’ve come up with a fantastic way to celebrate and commemorate the sixty-five years of unparalleled social work that CCI has offered our community.”
The initiative, to be held throughout the month of March, will offer children in grades K-5 in these three schools the chance to complete as many of the sixty-five different ways to be a reader as they can. Opportunities range from listening to audio books to reading Sunday comics, reading aloud to adults or being read to and so many more. As the program progresses, participants will fill out a ‘bingo sheet’ of reading opportunities they have completed. At the end of the month, each school will hold a drawing for prizes including extra recess, no homework for a day (principal approved!), a pizza party, and more. One child will win a grand prize of a brand new bike, thanks to the generosity of 10538 Bicycles in neighboring Larchmont…just in time for spring!
So why this extraordinary emphasis on reading? As is my habit, I’ll turn to wonderful authors, who said it better than I ever could: “We read to know that we are not alone,“ said Sinclair Lewis. “When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature. If I were a young person today, trying to gain a sense of myself in the world, I would do that again by reading, just as I did when I was young,” observed Maya Angelou. Ernest Hemingway felt “There is no friend as loyal as a book.” And the very great Dr Seuss urged “Be awesome! Be a book nut!”
Please join us for “65 Ways to be a Reader. ” Use the chart below, created by Julian Curtiss faculty and staff, or create your own. And in doing so, help us celebrate 65 years of CCI!
Here are 65 ways to be a reader!
How many can you complete by March 26th?
Color in each box as you do them! You don’t have to go in order.
“Act out” a book or a poem.
Read dialogue with the character’s voice and intonation. Make a face that shows the way the character is feeling. Use a cookbook and make a recipe. Read a favorite story and record it making your own audiobook. Read from the dictionary and learn 3 new words.
Read a stack of wordless books, and tell the story. Read the Sunday comics. Listen to an audiobook. Read to your pet. Word hunt for sight words in a book or magazine. Choral read – read the book together.
Read a stack of seasonal books. Read to your favorite stuffed animal. Read a how-to book, and make it! Read and make up a new ending for the story. Write your own book & read it to your family. Read to your younger siblings.
Make a blanket tent & read in it. Read a play with your family. Assign everyone a part. Read a genre that you don’t usually read. Read a magazine. Go to a museum and read the plaques. Read the signs in the shops around the neighborhood.
Read bumper stickers on cars & make your own. Turn on the closed captioning on your TV and read along with your shows! Go to the library and let the librarian pick out a book for you! Ask a friend to recommend a book for you. Read a book to yourself that your teacher has read to the class. Read a Book with a title that starts with the same letter as your first name.
Push yourself to read a page 2-3 times and make a clear picture in your mind of what is happening. Read 2 different nonfiction books about the same topic! What’s the same? What’s different? Draw a picture of your favorite scene from a book your teacher has read. Draw a picture of your favorite scene from a book you have read. Write a letter to your favorite author! Their addresses are on the publisher’s website. Pick 5 interesting words from a book and look up their meanings on dictionary.com.
Write a poem and then read it to another person. Give a summary of a book you just finished to an adult. Read a book with a hardcover. Read a book to a Senior Citizen Re-read your favorite book. Read a book about a famous person.
Read a book about nature. Read a book outside. Read a book written before you were born. Read in your PJs. Read 2 books in a day. Read a book about a different culture.
Read a book that has won an award. Read a book with a red cover. Read a book published in 2019 or 2020. Read a joke book. Start a blog sharing your favorite books. Create an account on Good Reads to find new books.
Search your favorite authors’ blogs to learn more about their books. Make a game board with questions about your book & ask your family and friends to play. Read a graphic reader or novel. Write your own graphic novel for others to read. Go to the public library to do some reading in a quiet spot. Read a book that has been made into a movie, then watch the movie!
Read a book about a place you have visited or want to visit. Do a partner read with a parent or sibling. They read a page, you read a page. Read at least 3 books in a series or by the same author. Read a fantasy book. Read a book that has a pattern, tell someone about the pattern. Read in the dark with a flashlight.
(Count up how many boxes you have completed) I completed _____________ ways to be a reader.