Story Hours: Fun time even for nonreaders of Mandaue CityBy Cris Evert B. Lato
CEBU CITY—It is a daily challenge for Divina Flores, principal of Mayor A.S. Fortuna Memorial Elementary School (MASFMES) in Barangay Guizo, Mandaue City, to encourage 1,200 pupils to love reading.
“I cannot deny it, we really have nonreaders here. It is difficult to make these children learn, especially when the parents are not supportive,” said Flores, 41, who has been teaching for 20 years.
“When the child cannot read, some parents would say, ‘Ma’am, just drop my child from your class. He is dull anyway.’ I hate it when parents say that,” she said.
When the school head learned about the Inquirer’s read-along program in November last year, Flores didn’t have any second thoughts about participating in the literacy initiative.
She was also ecstatic when she received another letter in June, inviting MASFMES pupils to join “Story Hours,” a reading and literacy project organized by Banilad Town Center, the Inquirer and Basadours, a group of volunteer storytellers.
And she saw how much fun the pupils had on Aug. 25 when the first Story Hours took place. They were also able to mingle with pupils of a private school, Saint Theresa’s College (STC), allowing them to meet new friends and learn from them as well.
“It was then that I was inspired to replicate the storytelling session in our school. A read-along or storytelling session can be a reading intervention and it might just increase the interest of our nonreaders to learn more,” Flores told the Inquirer.
Merinisa Olvido, the school’s guidance counselor who is in charge of the storytelling sessions, said “we are glad that groups like the Inquirer and Basadours are here to spread the love for reading. We really need to entice our children to read, to let them know that reading is cool.”
This month, the school will hold test runs with nonreaders to improve their skills through one-on-one tutorials with teachers. By October, a full-blown storytelling session will be conducted after the flag ceremony every Monday.
Storytelling will be part of the school’s reading intervention, Flores said. It will be implemented on top of the remedial classes and regular meetings with parents of nonreaders.
When she saw MASFMES pupils like John Niño Gonzales having fun while listening to a story, Flores said that sealed her decision to replicate the read-along format.
Throughout the Story Hours program on Aug. 25, John Niño actively participated. He sang his heart out during the singing of the national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” joined fellow children in the interactive storytelling and contributed his part in writing a story.
Story Hours is a convergence of three activities rolled into one. It happens every last Saturday of the month and will gather
60 children per session.
“Exposure to a culture of reading encourages pupils to read more. This is what you are doing,” Flores said.
The MASFMES received books from STC pupils, who were advised early on to donate books for their partner public school. This is part of Story Hours’ book drive.
During the story-writing session, children from both STC and MASFMES formed three groups and helped make and write their own literary works.
Ivah Pilones, a Grade 1 teacher of STC, said Story Hours was a perfect opportunity for STC pupils to interact with children from MASFMES.
Adding to the fun was the support of Pages Books, Tutoring Club, Dimsum Break, Thirsty, Gymboree and Hive.
Belen Zanoria, an English supervisor of the Department of Education in Mandaue District, is supportive of the endeavor and is looking forward to replicating the storytelling session in more public schools in the city, according to Flores.
“It will be best if it is not just Guizo that will learn from the read-along example. It is such as big help to be inspired and be assisted to help the pupils read and learn because they are the less privileged ones who need more help,” she said.
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