Burrillville schools plan 44 nights of bedtime stories, with prizes for young learners

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BURRILLVILLE – Learning loss over the summer months is always a concern for educators, and in 2021 Burrillville officials will implement a unique program to combat one element, with incentives targeting young readers.

The district is offering 44 nights of bedtime stories beginning on Monday, June 28, with books read by teachers and administrators, and raffled off as prizes for those who take part.

“We know that one of the best ways to build kids’ language skills, vocabulary, and comprehension is through read-alouds, and so we wanted to create a way to make that happen for all our littlest learners this summer,” explained Curriculum Director Julie Mayhew. “Children tend to experience learning loss every summer, and after the year we’ve just had, we really want to do everything we can to keep them from losing any ground.”

The new program joins several in Burrillville that already target learning loss, including summer school, the extended school year program, reading support groups and clubs, a computer programing and robotics club, and virtual tutoring in reading and math.

The bedtime stories will livestream each weeknight at 7 p.m. through a Google Meet, with a link to the events shared with families ahead of school summer vacation. The stories are geared toward children in grades K-2, and older and younger siblings are welcome.

On holidays and weekends, families will have access to a library of pre-recorded bedtime stories that were created by the students in the Burrillville High School Education CTE Pathway, along with video instructions/demonstrations of activities and crafts for younger children – such as how to make slime or bubble solution.

Volunteers have begun signing up to read stories and include administrators, school committee members and Burrillville teachers.

“I will be kicking it off on June 28th as our first reader,” said Supt. Michael Sollitto. “I’ve already called ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar.'”

The planned story lineup already includes, “Where the Wild Things Are,” “Jumanji,” “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” and many more.

“We tried to balance some classics with more updated titles, and we are letting our readers choose some favorites, too,” Mayhew said.

Mayhew said the idea for the bedtime stories evolved from a brainstorming meeting with some of the district’s reading teachers.

“During the pandemic, a friend of mine sent out a request to her family and friends to read virtual bedtime stories to her children, as a way to keep them connected to loved ones and to have something to look forward to each night,” she said. “To me, virtual bedtime stories seemed like a perfect solution.”

School officials will collect the names of all the children who attended, to be entered into a raffle for a copy of the book that was read that evening. Names will be drawn the next evening before the next book is read.

Virtual bedtime stories will continue every weeknight through Friday, Aug. 27.

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