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Ready for reading
School holds literacy night for parents, students

LILBURN - Shelly Taylor said her 6-year-old son, Jordan, loves to read.

"He just loves books," the Lilburn resident said. "When I was carrying him, I read a lot."

Taylor said her son loves picture books and storybooks. And Thursday evening, the first-grader said he enjoyed the fairy tale he listened to in the cafeteria at Hopkins Elementary.

The Taylors were among about 150 people who attended Hopkins' annual Literacy Night. The event, one of 10 parental-involvement meetings the Title I school must have each year, offered interactive activities to teach students and their parents the importance of literacy, Principal Pagie Ryals said.

More than half of the students at Hopkins speak a language other than English at home, Ryals said. Most of the families that attended the event were Hispanic, and all information was presented in English and Spanish.

"Their parents might not have come from a literate background ... and (many) did not go to school in the United States," Ryals said. "They simply don't know they need to be involved. We're teaching them how to be involved in the school system."

Ryals read books to students and their parents in the cafeteria. After she finished the tales, she told the parents about the importance of reading to their children.

"Don't be afraid to use voices (when reading a book). Don't be afraid to stop and ask questions (about the content in the book)," Ryals told the parents. "The most important thing is to take 20 to 30 minutes out of your busy day and to read a book to your child."

Students and their parents rotated through different activities. A storyteller sang to students in the media center, families created books to take home in an art classroom and students and parents learned about computer software to create books in a computer lab.

Toshia Johnson said she felt the event was teaching her children about the importance of literacy. She watched as her kindergartners, Donald and Dontava, colored the pages of a book. She also said the evening was teaching her something.

"I want to learn more about what the kids are doing in school," she said.

Getting parents involved in what their children are learning was the purpose of the evening, Ryals said. With their parents' help, children can achieve learning goals.

Hopkins has traditionally met its academic goals. The school is a Title I Distinguished School that has made adequate yearly progress for six consecutive years, according to information released this year by the Georgia Department of Education.