By Shelby Stewart
On March 24, Harvey Swanson Elementary hosted their upper elementary literacy night. This year, the theme was inclusivity and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.
“Our principal, Debbie Brauher, purchased “Save Me A Seat” which is a book written by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan, about two boys- one from India who is the new kid and another who has lived in the same place his whole life,” said Carrie Losey, k-5 literacy coach.
The night started with third grade teacher Chris Welling introducing the book, then Losey showed a map of the world and asked families to find India on the map, then specifically Banglore, India, where the main character Ravi is from.
“The idea was to familiarize students with the place in which one of the boys was from,” she said. “We asked questions like: Have you ever been the new kid? Have you ever sat alone in the school cafeteria during lunch? And other questions to help students relate to Ravi.”
After that, fourth grade teacher Sharon Voyer read an excerpt from the book and students played a game called ‘you be the judge’ to decide what was most important about Ravi.
“Jackie Long, 4th grade teacher, made the night more interactive by using the polling feature on Zoom so that participants could see everyone else’s opinions and answers,” she said. “The students seemed genuinely interested in the story and teachers are excited to begin reading the book aloud to their students after spring break. We are hoping it will be a great shared learning experience for our 3rd-5th graders.”
This was the first literacy night in two years, since last year was cancelled due to COVID-19. That year the theme was an escape room literacy night where families did different types of literacy activities to escape each room.
“We chose this book because it shows a window into another culture,” said Losey. “All children should be able to see themselves in the books they read, but they also need to be exposed to other cultures. Brandon School District just purchased books for all k-5 classrooms with various ethnicities and family situations represented in them. The literacy team felt this book is relatable and allows the reader to experience another culture through the eyes of a boy their age.”
Losey also said the literacy team is excited to create a cohesiveness with the upper elementary students since this year has been more difficult to get together.
“We are so excited to bring our kids together to engage them in reading activities,” she said.