Randolph, VT is a small town in the center of the state, with about 5,000 residents. It has three elementary schools within the supervisory union feeding into one high school. Those schools are central to the life of the community and once a year the community comes out to support the literacy of it’s youngest citizens.
The Community Read-Aloud has been going on for about ten years. The purpose is to bring students and community members together to share their love of reading. Students get to see that reading doesn’t just happen in school, but in the post office, the barbershop, the general store. They get to see community members, not just teachers, read books and share their enthusiasm for literacy. Community members get the benefit of seeing a new crop of youngsters enjoy and treasure books.
Students and their parents gather at the town gazebo and then disperse to eight different community sites to hear one story at each. There is time to visit three sites during the evening. This year some of the sites were the barbershop, the post office, the local newspaper office, the firehouse, the town library, and the local coffee shop. Some of the readers were a postal worker, a librarian, the editor of the paper, a fireman, a police officer, and a bookstore owner. At the end of the readings, each child gets to vote for his or her favorite book and look forward to getting a copy of that book in a few weeks.
The Sesame Street song “These are the people in your neighborhood” kept running through my head during the evening as I watched children with rapt expressions on their faces as they listened to a story. There is something special about knowing the people in your neighborhood and sharing a love of literacy with them. The Community Read-Aloud is a nice way to start.