Spreading the joy

The joy of reading continues to spread in Fort Dodge.

Second-grade students from Cooper Elementary visited Riverside Early Learning Center to read to its preschoolers Thursday.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity not only for Cooper Elementary, but our preschool children here,” Lis Ristau, Riverside ELC principal, said. “They’ve been so excited about their friends coming to read to them, and to get a book, as well.”

The event was made possible with funds provided by the Joy of Reading Foundation, which endeavors to inspire reading in second-graders and provides free books.

“They gave each second-grade teacher $500 and an iPad. So we have used some of this money to purchase brand new books,” Lana Waggoner, Cooper Elementary instructor, said. “Our students have practiced reading the books, and they’ve also written comprehension questions to try and improve their question-writing ability.”

Learning to read is fundamental at the preschool level, Ristau said.

“We have children in preschool learning their letters, being able to write their name,” she said. “We do a lot with visual phonetics to help kids see how sounds and letters come together to make words. They’re even writing words now in preschool.”

In addition to reading to their younger peers, the second-graders gave each of the preschool students a free book.

Waggoner said her students were excited about the event.

“It is motivational for our children to practice reading books for a purpose,” she said. “They know the purpose is to come over here, and to be a fluent reader and pass on a love of reading, and give them a free book.”

Already, the second-grade students have a joy of reading.

“In the second grade, we see children at the beginning of the year still learning to read,” Waggoner said. “But by this point of the year they are reading to learn more information.”

This is the first year this has been done, but Waggoner hopes it will become a tradition for Cooper Elementary’s second-grade students.

The hope, Waggoner said, is that the preschoolers would be more receptive to reading through the second-graders.

“I think they will like having someone a few years older reading to them,” she said. “They will be a role model to them. They can see how well they’re reading now, and hopefully they will continue that reading.”