As the White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts and Alice herself wandered the halls of Greenbrook Elementary School last week, the community-wide program South Brunswick Reads came to life in the district.
The South Brunswick Reads program, sponsored by the township school district and public library, encourages the entire community to read the same book at the same time, while fostering closer relationships between students and parents. After last year's program was a success with "The Wizard of Oz," this year's selection is Lewis Carroll’s "Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland."
Greenbrook applied a new twist to the program with an evening of events and activities to inspire the kids to take a trip to Wonderland.
"This is about making connections for the kids," said principal Patricia Holliday, decked out in full Queen of Hearts regalia. "We created a variety of activities to draw them into the book and make them feel a connection."
In various classrooms, students participated in different games and puzzles, while also listening to different readings, like the Jabberwocky poem from the book.
"This tells the kids that reading is important and we're showing them that it's all part of a bigger event," Holliday said.
Participants in South Brunswick Reads are asked to read the book, and to participate in various events related to the reading experience at the SBPL and in the classroom. The title was selected for its life lessons, humor and the use of math and logic. Alice's journey includes the use of 21st century skills for adapting and curiosity, and the book is also filled with puns and riddles.
In the school's tech lab, third-grade teacher Lauren Clark supervised a group of students and parents as they used the interactive SMART board to solve riddles.
"This allows the kids to interact with the book using technology. It's great when you have a visual aspect that allows them to touch and feel the characters and material," she said. "It's more interactive than only reading it."
Beyond the classroom learning, Clark said the district-wide program helps to build bridges between teachers, students and parents.
"It's nice having something that's integrated across all grade levels that unites us as a school," she added.