With books in hands, guest readers flooded the classrooms at Palmetto Elementary School, all hoping to inspire a love of reading on International Literacy Day.
Some books focused on animals overcoming everyday obstacles, like the worms that had to escape being caught as bait or being stepped on in the book Executive Director of Elementary Schools Annette Codelia read.
Others, like the book school board member Charlie Kennedy read, included fake towns with interesting names, like “Chew and Spit.”
Fifty years ago, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization created International Literacy Day to promote literacy as an instrument to empower individuals, communities and societies.
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Some books taught life lessons, like a line from the book Superintendent Diana Greene read to children in which the mother tells her child not to stare, because it’s not polite.
Thursday’s annual International Literacy Day celebration at the elementary school was organized by a committee, including literacy coach Cindy Nguyen-Pham.
“I think, especially for a Title I school, we need to raise awareness,” she said. “Reading is fundamental.”
Guests welcomed into the school included district-level school officials and also some Palmetto officials, including Mayor Shirley Groover-Bryant and Palmetto Police Chief Scott Tyler.
The morning kicked off with a poem about literacy written by third-grade teacher Cherelyn Bolt that was read in multiple languages during the morning video announcements, broadcast live to the whole school.
“What is literacy? Some people may ask. It’s reading, it’s writing, but there’s more to unmask. There’s listening, there’s speaking but it’s really quite more,” Bolt said. “Literacy provides freedom, the freedom to soar.”
After the poem, students were given 10 minutes to “drop everything and read,” as well as some time to share, draw or write about their reading while the guest readers were escorted to their classrooms.