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PJ-clad families caught in the 'Web'

May 07, 2007|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - One of life's pleasures is slipping into a pair of pajamas and snuggling up with a good book, as several hundred children and parents did Thursday evening at Stevens Elementary School.

The eighth annual PJ Readers Night drew mothers and fathers and sons and daughters to the school for a dinner, readings, activities and crafts based on the theme for the evening, "Charlotte's Web."

In darkened hallways, parents and children huddled together using flashlights to illuminate the words and pictures in books such as the one first-grader Audin Bean was reading, "Falling for Rapunzel."

"This is the best turnout we've ever had," said Liza McCormack, a guidance counselor at the school. "We used to have no parental involvement," but it has grown each year with PJ Readers Night, she said.

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"I think it's a good learning experience for my son and he's excited to come in and read," Tammy Rice said of second-grader Kaywan Johnson. "We came here last year, too."

"It's fun. More fun than working," Kaywan said.

"Each child gets a 'Charlotte's Web' book tonight at their reading level," said Eileen Blowers, a Title I reading specialist at the school. Three versions of the E.B. White children's classic, linked to the film version released last year, were available, she said.

"It's exciting to get so many parents involved and get this many people out for a reading celebration," said Sylvia Rockwood, the Chambersburg Area School District's director of information services. Dressed in pink striped jammies, Rockwood read from one of the "Charlotte's Web" books in the school's multipurpose room.

Parental involvement is a requirement of Title I, a federal program to provide extra instruction for at-risk students. Ninety-five percent of the students at Stevens Elementary are in the free or reduced-price lunch program, a measurement used to determine that risk, Blowers said.

More than 400 parents and children signed up for the event, Blowers said.

Parents and children selected books and were given flashlights for the hallway readings. Others used paint and marbles in small pizza boxes to create web patterns, drew pictures related to the stories they were reading and worked on activity books.

There also were literacy kits for preschool children, with toys, games and activities to boost those children's skills before they enter school, Blowers said. Those were provided through the Drew Michael Taylor Foundation, named for the son of teachers Randy and Marcie Taylor, who was killed in a vehicle crash last year.

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