Montabella, Vestaburg get pupils excited about reading

By Robin Miller • Last Updated 11:57 am on Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Jacob Ripley, a pupil in Mrs. Garcia’s kindergarten class, reads Dr. Seuss’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” — Daily News/Robin Miller

Palm trees, bamboo mats, surf boards and hammocks set the scene for a reading at Montabella Elementary School. It is one of the many ways elementary schools are motivating pupils to get into reading during the month of March.

“Kindergarten is the new first grade,” said Beth Garcia, Montabella kindergarten teacher and March Reading Month (MRM) coordinator, as she explained today’s progression of reading at the kindergarten level. “However, the age of a child’s readiness to read can vary and many aren’t quite there at five years old.”

Garcia hopes the MRM schedule will trigger an overall appetite to read at all grade levels.

Kindergarteners in Mrs. Garcia’s class at Montabella share books they’ve brought from home with their classmates. Left to right are Jlyn Chapman, Tyler Sanders and Eli Rathka. — Daily News/Robin Miller

Activities at Montabella Elementary School include Beach Wear Day, Read a Hat Day, Read a Shirt Day and a special visit by Michigan author Rhonda Gowler Greene.

Pupils at Montabella have a challenge to read at least one book, take an Accelerated Reading quiz and make reading-themed posters to extend around the school. The school’s tropical adventure will end with an assembly to award prizes to top readers.

Vestaburg fourth-graders in Jody Johnston-Vissman’s class are in for a reading slumber party this month. They get to wear pajamas and snuggle up in the classroom with a book, blanket and pillow.

Johnston-Vissman, however, doesn’t encourage reading just in March.

“This year, our elementary has made a big push to promote ‘The Love of Reading’,” said Johnston-Vissman.  “So rather than celebrating reading in just the month of March, I have been celebrating in my classroom all year.”

Pupils have daily access to hand-selected books called “Hot Reads.”

“I give a brief book walk or talk about the books (Hot Reads) on display in hopes that the books soon end up in the hands of pupils who are anxious to read them,” she said.

Local libraries have an abundance of reading selections.

Parents should get kids into the library at an early age, according to Tara Conley, directory of Flat River Community Library in Greenville.

Helping children get a library card and showing them how to use the file system to locate a book will make them feel at home, Conley said.

Abby McDonald, a Montabella kindergartener, reads My Dog, which reminds her of her seven-month-old American Bulldog named Baby Girl. — Daily News/Robin Miller

“I encourage parents to bring children into the library just to get used to the building,” said Conley. “We have a puppet collection and an early childhood learning computer with fun educational games.”

A book discussion on the popular book Hunger Games is scheduled at the library at 5:30 p.m. on March 13.
It’s recommended for adults and kids in fifth grade and older. There will be a drawing for a copy of Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook.

More information about the Flat River Community Library’s programs and services are online at

Correspondent Robin Miller is an Edmore resident. Her email address is

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