Instilling the Love of Reading in Our Students

By IMS Staff

Hamilton Family Charitable Trust Grant Enriches IMS Classrooms with Diverse Library Books & Pilot Read-Aloud Program

Thanks to a grant that IMS received from the Hamilton Family Charitable Trust, all 15 of our schools are being enriched with diverse library books and two of our schools, Holy Cross and St. Thomas, are participating in a pilot read-aloud program!

The pilot read-aloud program is designed to give students real-world experiences through the lens of literacy – from having guest readers come into the classrooms, to having the students travel to the local library and nearby businesses for read-aloud opportunities with community leaders. Through activities that correspond with each book, the learning is extended and students are able to make connections to the book.

The first-grade class at Holy Cross got a visit from an extra special guest – Justin Hopkins, a singer with the Philly Pops and proud alumnus of Holy Cross! In addition to reading a book, the students received an important life lesson. When they asked Justin if he makes a lot of money as a singer, he told them that you don’t pick a career based on money, but on what fulfills your soul. All souls in the room were filled as Justin soulfully sang his favorite childhood song, “Jesus Loves Me”, and the children joined in without even being prompted. It’s true that some lessons just can’t be taught from a book

First year teacher, Amy Bray, has embraced the read-aloud program at Holy Cross Catholic School. In addition to having readers come into the school, the students will travel to businesses that are within walking distance to expose them to a variety of occupations and build excitement about reading. “It is incredibly important to engage young readers in order to foster a joy for reading as they grow,” says Miss Bray. Students will visit a pizza shop, a sewing shop and the theater – to name a few.

Erin Kenny, third grade teacher at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, leads the read-aloud program at St. Thomas, which also features bringing in guest readers from the local community such as police officers, Philly Girls in Motion instructors and even their own Pastor for some bible reading. Miss Kenny is also planning to have students take a trip to the DiSilvestro Recreation Center for “Books on Wheels” in April and March, where they will meet with a librarian, be able to apply for a library card and take out books.

As part of the program, students will also receive books they can take home to grow their personal libraries and share their joy for reading with their families. “This grant has already brought so much joy and excitement to the students and I am excited to see it continue throughout the year,” says Miss Bray.

The Hamilton Family Charitable Trust is a small private family foundation that provides financial support primarily in the area of education—specifically literacy-based, educational programs in underserved Philadelphia area schools. Learn more about the Hamilton Family Charitable Trust on their website.