Read Across Vineland

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By: Ahmad Graves-El

Students at DiBiase Preschool, where Adrienne Noon teaches a class of early readers. (Staff photo: Ahmad Graves-El)

VINELAND, N.J. — Even in this audio/visual world that society seems to be entrenched in, reading is still fundamental. Earlier this month, the Vineland Public School system once again played a positive part in helping to promote this fact by celebrating Read Across America events in its schools.

The annual event, which is held at numerous schools nationwide, began in 1998, when the National Education Association implemented its idea of helping to stimulate young minds, through reading, with this ambitious program.

According to vineland.org, “This year-round program focuses on motivating children and teens to read through events, partnerships, and reading resources.”

Some Read Across America events that took place throughout Vineland Public Schools include: “We LAVA Good Book!” at Durand Elementary School; the Dallago Preschool Breakfast and Books Program, and a Family Fun Night at Petway Elementary School.

Always a fun tradition, there were numerous community members who went to different schools throughout the district, sharing their love for books by reading to many fascinated students.

SNJ Today went to two Vineland schools, DiBiase Preschool and Sabater Elementary, read a few books, had a few laughs, and spoke with teachers and students to compile their thoughts and opinions on the importance of reading.

DIBIASE PRESCHOOL: Adrienne Noon, preschool teacher

SNJ Today: In your opinion, how important is it for children to know how to read, and have fun reading, too?

Adrienne Noon: As a teacher, one of my goals is to instill a love of reading in the children. I try to make reading fun and interactive […] I encourage them to participate in reading by interpreting the book illustrations, predicting what might happen next, relating the book to their own personal experiences, ideas that they might have of how to solve a problem in the book.

SNJ: Do you and your school implement the spirit of Read Across America, which is to “help you motivate kids to read, bring the joys of reading to students of all ages, and make all children feel valued and welcome” throughout the school year?

AN: Our school offers a literacy night in which fun and engaging literacy activities are set up for the students and their families to partake in.

SNJ: Do you enjoy reading, and if so, what was your favorite book to read as a youngster?

AN: Growing up, my favorite book was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle. I remember the vivid illustrations and the holes in the food just bringing me a lot of joy each time it was read to me.

GLORIA SABATER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: Jackie Farside, 5th grade teacher

SNJ: In your opinion, how important is it for children to not only know how to read, but to have fun reading as well?

Jackie Farside: I think in order for students to become successful in all areas of life, they need to read.

SNJ: With advancements in technology — cell phones, iPads, video games, etc., these can be major impediments to a student’s reading habits. Do you find it challenging to keep your students engaged in reading? If so, how do you counteract those distractions?

JF: Kids today are so engrossed in social media. A big problem this year is TikTok. The students just want to be able to communicate on social media and worry about making TikToks so that they can get likes and become TikTok famous. It’s hard for any teacher to rein them in to realize that books can take you on an adventure. You may not see too many places outside of Vineland, New Jersey but if you pick up a book, you can see as many places outside of Vineland, New Jersey as you want.

[However], technology is important. Every year, we […] research a place. They’ll research a place that I assign them like Paris, France, or Germany, and they learn about that place. Then they create a Google slide[show] and share it with everyone. So, technology is important in that sense. I try to tell them don’t waste your life sitting on a phone. There’s a world out there of possibilities and if you stay here (she points to a cell phone) you may never experience [what’s out there].

SNJ: Do you enjoy reading, and if so, what was your favorite book to read as a youngster?

JF: When I went to Landis and then the high school (Vineland High School) I always had a book in my hand. I’ve probably read almost every Stephen King book.

SNJ: What’s your favorite book now?

JF: I’m not even going to lie right now and you’re probably going to laugh at me, but the Harry Potter series! They’re actually amazing novels. I’ve been slowly reading them in my spare time. [Note: SNJ Today did not laugh, but chuckled at her response, jokingly, of course.]

SNJ: Is there anything else you’d like to add about Read Across America, the importance of reading in general, or something we haven’t discussed during this interview?

JF: I don’t think that reading should be celebrated only one week out of the year. I think reading should be celebrated every day in a way that engages kids and makes [children] want to read.


SNJ Today also interviewed some of the students to ask them what their favorite book is, and why.

Pictured, from left: Alexa Santiago, Hussein Dukuly, Victor Najera Moran, and Jayda Vazquez.
(Staff photo: Ahmad Graves-El)

Alexa Santiago (11):
SNJ: What’s your favorite thing about books?
AS: When they teach you an important lesson.
SNJ: That’s interesting. What important lessons have you learned from reading?
AS: Be who you are and not who you aren’t.
SNJ: Do you think reading a lot will help make you a better student?
AS: Yes.
SNJ: How?
AS: I think it’ll make me a better student because [of] the words – and if you don’t know how to sound out the words, you try. And if you read, you learn lessons. And, if you had been doing something that the book has been doing, you’ll know how to solve your problems.
What is your favorite book?
AS: I read, like, so many books. [Alexa mentioned Undrowned as one of her favorites right now.]
SNJ: What would you say to students who don’t like to read?
AS: Just try. Because they could say that, but then if they start reading, they could start liking it.

Hussein Dukuly (10):
SNJ: What’s your favorite book?
HD: The Cat in the Hat Comes Back.
SNJ: Why is that your favorite book?
HD: Because it’s funny. The kid messes everything up, but then he fixes it.
SNJ: What’s your favorite thing about reading?
HD: Reading allows you to extend your imagination.
SNJ: How does reading extend your imagination?
HD: If it’s a picture book, you can see the pictures and if it’s not a picture book, you can still imagine the pictures. You can see it in your mind.
SNJ: Do you think reading a lot will help make you a better student?
HD: Of course.
SNJ: How?
HD: It will extend your comprehension. Like, if you have a test and there’s a word [on the test] and you read it in a book, you already know [what it means].
SNJ: What would you say to students who don’t like to read?
HD: I would say that reading is everything.

Victor Najera Moran (10):
SNJ: What’s your favorite thing about reading?
VNM: The excitement and the action in the books.
SNJ: What’s your favorite book?
VNM: I’m reading The House of Hades. It’s a good book.
SNJ: What’s it about?
VNM: It’s a book about a girl trying to stop this evil force from destroying the whole world.
SNJ: Wow, that’s pretty deep. Are you finished reading it yet?
VNM: I’m halfway done.
SNJ: When you get to the end you have to let me know what happens, OK?
VNM: Yeah! [He says with a laugh.]
SNJ: Do you think reading a lot will help make you a better student?
VNM: Yes.
SNJ: How?
VNM: It will help you learn grammar, learn new words.
SNJ: What would you say to students who don’t like to read?
VNM: I’d try to encourage them to read more.

Jayda Vazquez (10):
SNJ: What’s your favorite thing about reading?
Jayda Vazquez: Books are just fun to read, and you learn a lot from books.
SNJ: What do you learn?
JV: About the planets and about animals and, like, about famous people that passed away.
SNJ: Do you think reading a lot will help make you a better student?
JV: Yes, because you’ll understand the words that the teacher is trying to explain.
SNJ: What’s your favorite book?
JV: I like a book series called the Babysitters Club. It’s a graphic novel. I like it because it’s like a comic book.
SNJ: What would you say to students who don’t like to read?
JV: That it’ll make them a better person by learning about stuff about planets, and the ocean, animals and other people.

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