SESRotaryBooksForKidsOriginally Published The Nugget News May 31, 2016
Author Kathryn Godsiff

First-graders in Sisters Country got a jump start on their summer reading last Friday. The annual Books for Kids literacy event, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sisters, took place in the Sisters High School(SHS)auditorium. Students from Sisters ElementarySchool, Sisters Christian Academy and TumaloSchool ended the day taking home a hard-bound book of their very own, along with some other goodies donated by the Forest Service, Sisters Library and the Rotary Club.

The event is all about books, reading, and enjoying both. Master of Ceremonies Brad Tisdel made sure that music and laughter were also included. The SHS Interact Club members added a touch of drama by acting out a story that included a good queen, a bad grinch, heroic first-graders and lots of books.

This is the eighth year that Sisters Rotarians have funded the literacy program. The City of Sisters also provided a grant toward the program.

Books for Kids is modeled on a program founded 18 years ago in Casper, Wyoming. John Jorgensen, a Casper resident and yearly presenter at Sisters’ Books for Kids, wanted to honor his late wife Sue with a gift of literacy to first-graders. The program is now called Wyoming Reads and is held each year on a day in May decreed by the governor of Wyoming.

The idea spread, and in Oregon the literacy event modeled on Wyoming Reads takes place in Sisters, Madras, Klamath Falls, Springfield, Lebanon and

Ashland.

The literacy celebration actually began in January, when a selection of six age-appropriate books was delivered to the first-grade teachers. The books are read to the students, who choose their favorite. The list is passed to the Rotary Club, which purchased the books through Paulina Springs Books.

On the day of the big give-away, the students arrived at the high school and were greeted by Rotarians. They filed into the auditorium, where Tisdel was ready with interactive songs to get things going.

Next up was Sisters librarian Paige Bently-Flannery, who runs the children’s programs at the library. She read a selection of poetry and had the students reciting, clapping and shouting as she shared the delight of words that rhyme.

Tisdel then introduced Jorgensen. He narrated the story of the Good Queen Sue (dramatized by the Interact students), whose castle was infiltrated by an illiterate grinch who cast a spell and then tried to destroy the queen’s library. Fortunately some first-graders caught the grinch in the act and used the spell’s antidote, “Sniggledy-snead, I like to read” to stop the dastardly deed. The auditorium echoed as the Sisters and Tumalo first-graders yelled it along with the actors. The happy ending had the grinch reading along with her new-found first-grade friends.

If it sounds like a loud event, it was. But that was purposeful, to remind the children that reading, especially at first-grade level, is often interactive and always fun.

Sisters library supervisor and Rotarian, Zoe Shumacher, summed it up: “First grade is an important time in the development of reading skills. This is where you begin to see the foundation start to unfold for what is, hopefully, a lifelong habit and love of reading.”

The event ended as each child received a book bag, which were all opened at the same time. The bags contained the chosen book, complete with a name plate with each child’s name, as well as a bright yellow T-shirt, a toy from the Forest Service, coloring books and crayons, and stickers from the library.