The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 21, 2013

Reading Corps holds family day at Roosevelt

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO —

Evan Honken ran his pointer finger along the line of words, sounding them out as needed, which wasn’t that often.
 
“Tor-pe-do,” he said. 
 
“Wow, very good,” said his mom, Erica Honken.
 
It was very good. Evan is a kindergartenert at Roosevelt Elementary in Mankato. Years ago, kindergartners learned their ABCs. These days, said Principal Ann Haggerty, kids are expected to know their letters and sounds before they get to school. 
 
That was apparent in a kindergarten classroom Thursday morning. For the second year, Reading Corps held a family reading day in which parents, grandparents and siblings came to school throughout the day to read with their kids in different grade levels.
 
“We’re really working on promoting reading at home, taking that time at home,” said Hilary Urban, a Reading Corps literacy tutor, who wasn’t surprised by some of the fluent readers in the room. “There are some very good readers.”
 
Owen Padilla was one of them, although he insisted his name was Owee-Owee Cookie-Doughy. His grandma, Etta Poole, had come to read with Owee-Owee, and the two were tucked in a far corner of the room on the carpet, surrounded by others doing the same.
 
The Honkens were across the way, tackling a book on sharks and learning about razor-sharp teeth and “cold, dead eyes.” “This is kind of a scary sounding book,” Erica said. “‘A great white shark’s bite is three times stronger than a lion’s bite.’”
 
“Wow,” Evan said, before it was his turn to read again.
 
Reading Corps is the largest state AmeriCorps program and has been recognized nationally for its success in helping children become proficient in reading by third grade. The program is for children ages 3 to grade 3 and is implemented in about 600 schools, Head Start centers and early-childhood programs across the state.