SOUTHFIELD — There were princesses and dragons, rhymes and superheroes, space shuttles and talking dogs.
At what was Southfield Public Schools’ largest read-in event last week, anything could happen in the magic that filled the pages.
“Everywhere I go, I tell people that, in Southfield, we have the greatest readers in the world,” Mayor Brenda Lawrence told the audience of hundreds of elementary school children, grouped by class on colorful area rugs that dotted the Southfield Pavilion March 6. “I tell them, kids in Southfield understand that books are magic.”
The children gasped as Lawrence talked about magic carpet rides, the wonder of clouds and all the best experiences that can be found in books. That day, more than 800 students journeyed into all kinds of adventures, as dozens of community leaders, elected officials and volunteers read to the children as part of the second annual Revolution Read.
The district launched Revolution Read last March in response to the national literacy crisis that has left many students less-than-prepared for college and future careers, according to SPS spokesperson Jacqueline Robinson. The goal of the initiative is to ensure that every child is reading at grade level by the end of fifth grade.
“Even though our reading scores are strong, we know that strengthening skills will help improve performance in all other subject areas,” said Dr. Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Southfield Public Schools.
The morning began with a sing-along session led by local entertainer Maggie McCabe on the guitar, an appearance by Clifford, the Big Red Dog, and a wiggle wave — the burst of movement kids are prompted to do to make sure all the wiggles are out while they sit quietly for story time.
Several dignitaries spoke to children in hopes of encouraging them to read and get excited about books.
“We do a lot of things on the school board that are not fun, but this, this is fun,” School Board President Darryle Buchanan said at the event. “Reading is the foundation for everything you want to do in your life. … Be very hungry about reading. It’s the one thing you can do that will take you around the world and even beyond that.”
Southfield Police Chief Eric Hawkins assured the kids that all the uniformed officers they see in their city are readers.
Southfield Fire Chief Keith Rowley told the children that he used to be a student in Southfield Public Schools and learned to read just like them.
“Your teachers are some of the ones who taught me to read and be the best I can be,” he said. “Firefighters read every day.”
Librarian Dave Ewick came in character, much to the amusement of the kids, as a beloved Dr. Seuss character.
“I am Thing 1 and I have one thing for you to remember: Read every day,” he said. “Read for fun, read for school and someday you’ll ready for work. But just remember that my one thing, as Thing 1, is read for fun.”
The reading continued in the afternoon when 70 Celebrity Readers fanned out to every second through fifth grade classroom, reading to nearly 2,000 children in one day.
To learn more about Revolution Read or reading efforts at Southfield Public Schools, contact Jacqueline Robinson at (248) 746-8542. For more information about the Celebrity Reader program, or to volunteer, call Joyce Silagy at (734) 890-2050.
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