Oliver: Another rewarding chapter of Love to Read

When I was a child, reading was one of my favorite things to do.

Whether it was peering over my mother’s shoulder for a bedtime story or lying on my stomach while racing through yet another “Nancy Drew” installment, reading provided hours upon hours of pleasant diversion.

I would take my books with me wherever I went – outside in a tree, on the bus or in a corner of the library. It really didn’t matter where I was as long as I had a book in which to get lost.

All those fond memories come flooding back each February when I make my annual pilgrimage to Westwood Elementary School.

Monday kicked off Love to Read Week in District 200 schools. Every year since 1991, members of the community have visited Woodstock kindergarten, elementary and middle schools to share their love of reading with students.

All those books I read as I was growing up fostered a deep love of language and a curiosity about the world.

What a privilege it is to try, even in a small way, to spark that kind of interest in another generation.

This year I had the pleasure of reading to students in Ms. Sauber’s, Ms. Wagner’s and Ms. Palek’s classes.

I shared one of my favorite stories, “The Crane Maiden” by Miyoko Matsutani. It was published in the year I was born – a long, long time ago, I tell the kids.

Of course there also was a dose of Dr. Seuss. How could I pass up the opportunity to tackle some brilliantly written rhymes? Besides, I adore “The Sneetches” and its message of not judging others by their appearance.

As much as I love sharing my favorite books, I’m also curious about what the children like to read. Here’s what a few Westwood students had to say in the handout that we Love to Read Week readers received.

“It helps you with your literature and it’s hard to put the book down when you’re reading a really good book,” fifth-grader Cameron wrote. Cameron’s favorite book is “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl.

“I love to read because you get to see through a different set of eyes on a situation and you can be the character and be in his/her situation,” fifth-grader Tyler wrote. Tyler’s favorite? “The Kill Order” by James Dashner.

“It’s fun and I like it,” first-grader Allison wrote. Her favorite is “Judy Moody” by Megan McDonald.

“It is my favorite thing to do,” first-grader Kyra wrote. Her favorite book is “Charlie the Ranch Dog” by Ree Drummond.

There were almost as many favorite books as there were students.

The trick oftentimes is helping children realize that there’s something out there for what interests them.

Events such as Love to Read Week aim to do just that.

And I’m so happy that they let me be a part of it.

• Joan Oliver is the assistant news editor for the Northwest Herald. She can be reached at 815-526-4552 or by email at

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