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World Book Day
After-school program celebrates reading
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Josslyn Gunn, 7, reads a Berenstain Bears book with her mother Rosaline Gunn, Tuesday during the Kansas Reading Roadmap after-school program at Jefferson Elementary School.

Moms, dads, grandparents and even a dog came to hear Jefferson Elementary students read Tuesday after school. Every family that attended the Kansas Reading Roadmap (KRR) program that day received a copy of the book “Berenstain Bears: When I Grow Up,” to take home and keep.

Emma Goad, coordinator of Jefferson’s KRR after-school program, explained that Tuesday was World Book Day. Everyone got together in the gym at 4:30 for a group photo that read, “Jefferson KRR Celebrates World Book Day.”

The 62 students enrolled in Jefferson’s KRR program usually stay after school four days a week – Monday through Thursday – from the final bell at 3:10 p.m. until 5 p.m. KRR is a structured program to increase reading proficiency in children from kindergarten through fifth grade. The creators of the program note that children who can read proficiently by fourth grade are four times more likely to graduate high school on time. However, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 65 percent of U.S. fourth graders are not proficient readers. 

Goad and six tutors that include teachers, teacher aides and paraprofessionals typically work with the KRR children after school. To celebrate World Book Day they invited parents and staff to come read one-on-one with the students. She set the program for 4:30 p.m. in hopes that more parents who normally work until 5 might be able to attend.

Jefferson Principal Kip Wilson was also there for the celebration, as was Glenn Schraeder with Luna, his certified therapy animal through Pet Partners. Luna, a Bernese Mountain Dog, is part of the Pet Partners Read With Me program in Great Bend. She is scheduled for regular visits at the Great Bend Public Library so children can sign up to “Read with Luna.” 

“We usually go to all of the KRR programs,” Schraeder said.

Children and their reading partners spread throughout the school Tuesday to find comfortable spots to read their “Berenstain Bears” books. Goad said the book is for a second- or third-grade reading level but the story is good for all ages. “My goal was to have the parents read to them, for the most part.”

After reading the book, parents and children shared an activity, talking about what they want (or wanted) to be when they grow up.

Carter Dreiling, 8 years old, said he wants to be “a professional football player and professional baseball player.”

His brother Cooper, who pointed out he is 4 “and a HALF” years old, would like to be a mailman.

Josslyn Gunn and Maci Reifschneider are both 7 years old and want to become teachers, while Brody Reifschneider, 3, wants to be “a trashman.”