Why celebrating reading in school is important

To the Editor:

As principal of St. Thomas the Apostle School, I invite everyone in the community to share in our students’ celebration of Children’s Book Week May 13 to 17. Why are we participating in this national literacy initiative? Because at St. Thomas the Apostle School, we know “Readers are Leaders.”

Reading opens doors for our children. Reading allows children to enter into a world that is not their own, removing any barriers society may have placed in their way and enabling them to enjoy a world of creativity and imagination. When St. Thomas students read the biography of Fredrick Douglass in third grade, they feel the strength and tremendous will of a man who would not allow our nation’s corrupt laws to stand against his freedom. When the fifth graders at St. Thomas read “The Wright 3,” they explore Hyde Park in search of clues to solve mysteries. When the first graders read “Dear Mr. Blueberry,” they write letters to their teacher explaining how a whale truly could exist in their back yard. And when the sixth graders read “The Outsiders,” they enter the tragic world of Pony Boy and predict what his next decision will be.

Our students do not read just to escape the confines of their own world, however. They also read to learn how they can better themselves and ultimately better the world around them. Reading the histories of FDR, the moon landing and Native American tribes not only teaches them about the past, but inspires ideas about how to change the future. Inspiration from books creates laughter, tears, sighs and attentive ears, all within the comforting walls of our classrooms at 55th Street and Woodlawn Avenue.

From the youngest in pre-school to the oldest in 8th grade, our students are rewarded every day by the books they read. Reading is the greatest reward we can give them. For this reason, we have invited leaders from the community to come read to our students this week. We will also welcome former Hyde Park resident and St. Thomas teacher Patrick Ryan who is now an internationally acclaimed storyteller. Please join them and St. Thomas the Apostle in celebrating Children’s Book Week and help us promote literacy among our children. Let them see us all as leaders who are readers.

Candace M. Scheidt, Principal
St. Thomas the Apostle School