Fourth graders at East Vincent Elementary School are looking at literacy a whole new way. The class celebrated Read Across America by holding a “book tasting,” during which students explore different picture books centered on diversity. Teacher Stephanie Laubenstein helped students get into the concept by donning chef’s gear and decorating tables with red checkered tablecloths as in a restaurant. She borrowed 90 books from the local library system – a special allowance – in order to provide a bounty from which the children could choose. The books showcased a wide variety of characters including people of different skin colors, races, religions, cultures and abilities; families with different structures; and people who played different sports or activities.
As “appetizers,” students were instructed to first choose “mirror books,” or those with characters that had things in common with them. They then moved on to entrées – “window books,” or those that contained characters that seemed different from them. Lastly, they could pick whichever books were their favorites for “dessert.” The goal was for students to realize there are books with characters like them, and that there is a little “mirror” in every “window” book, too.
In addition to Laubenstein’s classroom, the entire school participated in Read Across America events such as having guest readers, a book raffle and audiobooks played for all students.
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