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At school or home, reading is a family affair

Kenowa Hills — Up and down the halls of Alpine Elementary, small groups of students sat in clusters reading books. 

Each group had a special guest reader to listen and help young readers with new words and sounds. 

Julie Thome came to Alpine’s Reading Will Take You Places event to read with her son, kindergartner Asher Leder, and his classmate, Marcus Hickey. 

“Emily Elizabeth is my favorite,” Marcus said, while Thome helped him read “Clifford Goes to Dog School.” 

Asher got to pick the next book to read with his mom and chose “In All Colors/ De Colores.”

Alpine Elementary’s ‘Reading Will Take You Places’ event invited families to visit the school and read with their children and classmates

Besides reading with students, parents and other family members were also invited to a presentation on how to support their students’ reading outside of school, led by Alpine’s intervention specialists.

“We’re so excited you’re here. We haven’t had a parent reading event since before Covid,” intervention specialist Shelly Kunst told them. 

The opportunities for reading support at Alpine include reading buddies across grade levels and volunteers from Grand Valley State University who visit once a week to read with students. The school’s Knightly reading program sends kindergarten through third-grade students home with a book in a bag to encourage 15-20 minutes of reading every day. 

Alpine Elementary Intervention Specialist Shelly Kunst talks to families about how to support their child’s reading at home

Alpine also partners with local police officers who come in and read to students through the Books and Badges program.  

Kunst said she hopes this reading momentum continues at home, too. 

“Reading at home should be a relaxing, enjoyable and positive time,” she said. 

To help families with this process, the reading interventionists played a video on the ABC’s of Active Reading, offering ways to engage with their kids by asking questions, building vocabulary and connecting with their worlds. 

“We want to be partners in your child’s education,” intervention specialist Liz Greemann told visiting family members. “Visit the school anytime and connect with your child’s teacher about reading with the class. It makes a big difference in their education.”  

From left, GVSU student volunteer Lynne Fisher reads with kindergartners Eliza Fuller and Adaliz Cortez-Vasquez, far right

Read more from Kenowa Hills: 
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Kind, inclusive, encouraging 

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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