Reading is a powerful experience. Books can take readers to different worlds, immerse them in a range of stories, and broaden their horizons.
Unfortunately, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 21% of adults have low literacy.
One of the Academy of 21st Century Learning’s goals is to reduce that number by fostering a passion for reading among its students early on, and one of the Vacaville Private School’s ways to achieve this is through its evening Literacy Awareness Annual.
The third episode was held at Nut Tree Plaza on Thursday night, featuring authors, booths, arts and crafts and, yes, lots and lots of books.
The event was actually scheduled to be held on September 8 to coincide with World Literacy Day, but Erin Dwyer, the Academy’s director of operations, said last week’s brutal heat put it off.
“I am very fortunate to be able to bring this event back to the community and that our partners have been so dedicated to the importance of early literacy that they have changed their schedules to accommodate better times in the importance of our children,” she said.
While it may not have happened on World Literacy Day, Dwyer said September was National Literacy Month, so it was still relevant.
“We run this all month with a lot of the work we do in our class,” she said. “In fact, some of our older students join our younger students and read to them throughout the month as well.”
This time the free event was held in the early evening with plenty to do for all ages. Solano County Library had a booth for kids to sign up for library cards, nonprofit all about hope showcased the literature available in kits they provide to local hospitals and the Academy provided a bookmarking station.
As a STEAM school, Dwyer said, “We wanted to make sure we showcase the arts.”
The school also gave the community access to its ongoing school book fair, a smaller version of this long-standing primary school staple that has enabled generations of children to purchase books. from the publishing company behind some of the most popular children’s books and series. all the time.
“Today we achieved our academic goal for our academic and school book fair, which is really exciting,” Dwyer said. “It’s another big celebration tonight around the importance of literacy.”
The fair, which ends Friday, has an assortment of Scholastic books available for purchase, with proceeds benefiting the Academy. Titles include series such as ‘Pete the Cat’, ‘Clifford the Big Red Dog’, ‘Captain Underpants’, ‘The Last Kids ‘on Earth’ and ‘Just Beyond’, the new series from RL Stine, best known for his long-running “Goosebumps” series.
Speaking of goosebumps, Stine isn’t the only author giving young readers some. Vacaville’s own Diana Corbitt was on hand to read bits from his “Ghosters” series, which is currently in its fourth installment, providing just the right atmosphere as Halloween approaches.
Corbitt previously taught elementary school for 30 years, most of which was spent teaching fifth graders, but she briefly taught second grade. Seeing her students sitting on the floor reading books during the designated reading time inspired her to try writing books for this age level.
In fact, it turned out to be a challenge.
“They’re actually quite hard to write,” she said. “You have a limited number of words in a picture book.”
When Corbitt resumed teaching fifth grade, she decided to write at that level, which she was more comfortable with. Additionally, she associated this with her love of scary stories, especially the works of Stephen King.
“I would like to be the Stephen King of children’s books,” she said.
In 2017, Corbitt wrote her first book “Ghosters,” which tells the story of 12-year-old Theresa, whose family inherits a spooky mansion after her mother dies. Theresa and her autistic brother, Joey, begin to see ghosts, although no one else in her family can. With the help of her paranormal-obsessed friend, Kerry, the three begin to investigate.
Theresa, Joey, and Kerry’s ghost-hunting adventures continue in the next three installments, which take them to a haunted school library, England’s Tower Hamlets cemetery, and a slumber camp.
Corbitt believes it’s important for children to start reading early because it’s a skill that’s needed for the rest of their lives.
“If you read early, it’s something you enjoy,” she said. “So it’s not a chore anymore. The goal is that the children want to read voluntarily.
In addition to the magic of reading, children were exposed to unmistakable magic, courtesy of Maris Carlson, known by her stage name Husband Elaine. The 15-year-old Vacaville resident has been performing magic tricks since she was 7 after being inspired by watching “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.”
Maris did several rounds for members of the public who visited her booth. One trick was to give participants a set of crayons, telling them to put one of them behind their back, secretly peel some crayon from under their fingernail, return the crayon, turn around, and see what was the color.
She also does tricks with books, such as making the title of a book appear on a dollar bill inside a lemon. Maris had an exhibition of several magic-themed books such as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”, “Coraline” and “The Wizard’s Nephew”.
“I love seeing how surprised people are and how happy it makes them,” she said.
People who visited different booths got raffle tickets, which they could use to win baskets donated by Scholastic and one from the Academy that featured a copy of “Nut Tree: From a California Ranch to a Design, Food , and Hospitality Icon” by Diane Zimmerman. The book tells the story of the iconic Vacaville restaurant that once stood on the grounds of the mall where the Academy currently operates and was signed by Zimmerman, a descendant of the Nut Tree founders.
Academy teacher Sandy Robinson brought her two daughters, Abbey and Haley, with her. At 5, Abbey already loves to read and the family has also bought books for Haley.
Sandy liked that the event promotes another way of learning.
“A lot of kids are very connected to their devices and computers,” she said. “It lets them know that there is another form of entertainment through good old books.”
Dwyer reiterated that the goal was to promote an early love of reading.
“That definitely extends to our adult literacy and the huge efforts that are needed around the world to help our young students engage and be self-sufficient in early reading and phonics,” she said. declared. “It’s really just our way of helping to continue to promote those efforts, to bring those numbers down in terms of the percentage of our population that really struggles with reading.”
Dwyer also hopes the event will spark interest in children who want to become authors.
“They have the opportunity to meet authors right here in Vacaville where they have turned their love of passion and reading into a career,” she said. “A career in the workplace is always a connection we try to offer our students, and this is certainly one way of achieving this: by supporting an international cause for early literacy.