When CVA Media Specialist Steve Inzer visits the Central Valley elementary schools, he is more than a guest reader. (Note: Mr. Inzer read at Fisher Elementary library on Thursday, Mar. 5 and will read the same books at Barringer Road Elementary on Thursday, Mar. 12.) He shares personal stories and asks thoughtful questions, helping students make a deeper connection to each book he read.
He is a powerful presenter. At times, students laugh. Other times they fall silent, captivated by the tales and Mr. Inzer’s dramatic storytelling.
The purpose of his visits, however, are more than to simply entertain students. Although he wants the students to enjoy the time, he revolves his presentation around promoting good character, reinforcing positive life lessons and promoting reading as a way of life.
Coming from the high school, Mr. Inzer is a fresh face and a different voice. That unfamiliarity helps him draw in the audience while he subtly works to add a new level of interest and excitement to reading.
“I also want students to understand that reading continues at the high school,” he said.
Elementary school students focus much of their time building reading skills and vocabulary. Instead of learning to read simply being a task to conquer, he hopes that students will develop a love for reading that continues throughout their lives.
Mr. Inzer reads four books, two to third graders and two to fourth graders. He carefully selects each book.
“I like stories that teach a lesson,” he said.
To fourth graders, he reads “The Zax” by Dr. Seuss and “The Summer My Father was Ten” by Pat Brisson.
“The Zax” tells the tale of two creatures, one travelling south and the other travelling north, who meet each other on a path. When both stubbornly refuse to to step aside and let the other pass, they stand face-to-face forever unable to move forward.
In “The Summer My Father was Ten,” the author thoughtlessly destroys his elderly neighbor’s vegetable garden. The young boy does not apologize despite the horrible guilt that haunts him. When the neighbor does not plant a garden the following year, the boy steps forward and accepts responsibility for his actions. The boy apologizes and together they plant and care for the garden. When the tomatoes ripen, they make tomato sauce. The close relationship continues until one year, the man leaves to live in a nursing home.
To the third graders, Mr. Inzer reads “The Sneetches” by Dr. Seuss and “Enemy Pie” by Derek Munson.
“The Sneetches” is the story of two groups of imaginary creature, one group with a star on their bellies and one group without. Everyone comes to believe that having a star makes you better. So when stranger Sylvester McMonkey McBean shows up with a special star-on machine, the Plain-Belly Sneetches pay to have stars placed on their bellies. The Star-Belly Sneetches are no longer different or special, so McBean offers to remove their stars—again for a fee. This back and forth continues until everyone has no more money and they can no longer tell which Sneetches are which. At that point, the Sneetches finally realize that they are really all the same and can be friends.
Next, he reads “Enemy Pie,” a book he describes as, “My favorite book, numero uno.” It is the first person account of a little boy who declares his neighbor an enemy after the neighbor strikes him out in a ball game and later holds a party without inviting him. The boy’s dad offers to bake an “enemy pie” as a sure-fire way to get rid of an enemy. The boy is convinced this mysterious recipe will be the perfect payback for someone who has made him so miserable. There is just one catch, he must spend a day with his neighbor to lure him in. Over the course of the day, the boy comes to see his neighbor as a friend, fulfilling his father’s promise that the pie would get rid of an enemy.
Mr. Inzer said the school’s libraries are filled with other great books that can be conversation starters for parents and their students. Parents or students can simply ask library clerk Cindy Bechard (cbechard@cvalleycsd) at Barringer or teacher assistant Marilyn Behe (email@example.com) at Fisher for suggestions.
Photos from the Fisher visit
Photos from the Barringer Road visit
to be posted after the event