Overnight snow and frigid daytime temperatures couldn't stop Operation Early Reading volunteers from trekking to two La Grange Head Start schools on Tuesday, February 8.
Readers included Carla Feinkind, Linda Legner, Marie Raffl, Susan Rusk (non member), Paula Whitelaw, Diane Mrozek, Pat Mrozek, Heather Laughman and current OER co-chairs Maria Kim and Carol Yee.
The ladies read "Too Many Pears!" to a total of 62 pre-kindergarten students ranging from 3 - 5 years old in the morning and afternoon sessions at Congress Park School in Brookfield and Ideal School in Countryside. After listening to the story of a cow who loved pears, the youngsters participated in a coloring and counting activity.
"At Ideal School, one of the children recognized us from last year and said to the teacher, very excitedly, 'they are here!'," Maria Kim reported.
"I am so glad I got to participate with OER and reading to the kids!" said Heather, who has agree to take over Maria's position as Carol's co-chair. "They were so adorable and seemed really happy to have us there. What a great "hands on" experience that was fun too!"
Maria is fluent in Spanish and a huge asset to the Operation Early Reading program. "There was an increase in the number of Spanish-speaking children," Maria said. "Last year, I think there was a total of 5-6. This year, there were 9 children who were in the Spanish only category, although they are learning English in class, and appear to know their numbers in English. Each time we counted the pears, we took turns counting in Spanish and English."
The carefully-selected books always open up a dialogue with the children, who love to tell stories of their own.
"Before I read the book, we talked about the snowstorm and many said their dad's or a relative's car had gotten stuck in the snow," Maria said. "Also, a couple children told me that they didn't like pears, but oranges or apples."
"All in all," Maria added, "the children were glad to see us, as well as being excited about getting a copy of the book and taking it home to share with their family."