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Great day, all day, to read

Grandville — The hallways and classrooms inside Grand View Elementary were pretty quiet last Thursday.

Not because classes were canceled, though — because every class was outside, reading. For the whole day. 

“My staff knows this, I’m just always about reading, reading, reading — it’s such a huge part of the culture here,” Principal Emily McAlpine said. “This just felt like the perfect way to embrace that culture. In the absence of field trips and other things like that, we wanted to create something fun, encourage summer reading and have a great day to celebrate the end of this year. They’ve worked so hard, they’ve endured such a crazy year, they deserve this.” 

The day-long “Read Out” saw classes spread across the entire Grand View campus — pods of classes in the front lawn, on the soccer field, in the reading garden, behind the playground and along each side of the building. Students brought books from home or from their classrooms to read, along with blankets, sunscreen, hats and other comforts. Some, like fifth-grade best friends Morgan Davies and Lilly Morgan, even brought beach chairs and umbrellas for maximum relaxing in the grass. 

“I think this is a really smart thing to do because it gets us outside and reading our books, and I like reading,” said Morgan, who was making her way through “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins. “It’s fun because you’re still, like, hanging out with people, but you get to be reading, too.” 

As students read, teachers had them keep track of any “tricky words” they came across in their books, and then write those words in chalk on the driveway in front of the school’s front door. 

A tricky word is “like a word that’s hard for you or that you don’t really understand,” explained third-grader Josh Twilling, who was keeping track of his tricky words like “aroma” and “futuristic” via sticky notes. “I have, like, four that I found in every book so far today.” 

First-grader Elsie Crevier picks the perfect syrup flavor for her sno-cone

Besides reading, classes also had the opportunity to visit several reading-themed activity stations throughout the day, like bookmark-making, a scavenger hunt and a “book walk” with pages posted on classroom windows for kids to read. Librarians from Kent District Library were also on hand to play games and talk about their summer reading program

Plus, as a special treat, Grand View’s Parent Teacher Committee sponsored a sno-cone truck to be on site for the day, which was a big hit on the sunny, 84-degree afternoon. 

For first-grade teacher Jill Arim, one of the organizers, the best part of Read Out was seeing kids of all ages surrounded by books, without complaint, for an entire day.  

“They don’t really even realize that they’re reading all day long,” she said. “If you just told them to read for seven hours, most kids would be like, seven hours? But when you’re outside, it’s fun. When you’re hanging out on a beach towel with your friends, it’s fun; when you get to pick books that you’re excited to read, it’s fun.

“Seeing all the other classes doing it too is a big plus. We happened to be next to some third-graders who read silently, in their heads, and my (first-graders) noticed that. In first grade you read out loud – they cannot read in their head yet, so they noticed that when they get to third grade, they’ll be reading in their heads. The different grade levels are modeling what reading looks like as you get older, and that definitely helps.”

Josh, who brought a big pile of books from home, especially enjoyed his sno-cone — “I put every flavor (of syrup) on it and it kind of tasted like an ocean!” — but also appreciated the opportunity to spend a day doing something fun and new. 

“This is probably, like, the best thing we’ve done all year,” he said. “The teachers and principals here like to think of big things for us to do, and everything that they plan is really fun.”

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Beth Heinen Bell
Beth Heinen Bell is a reporter and copy editor, covering Rockford, Lowell, Grandville and Cedar Springs. She is an award-winning journalist who got her start as the education reporter for the Grand Haven Tribune. A Calvin University graduate, she later returned to her alma mater to help manage its national writing festival and edit and write for enrollment communications. Beth has also written for The Grand Rapids Press, Fox 17 and several West Michigan businesses and nonprofits. She is fascinated by the nuances of language, loves to travel and has strong feelings about the Oxford comma. Read Beth's full bio

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