Blanchard Elementary readies for schoolwide read

Thursday, February 3, 2005

Who is Donald Zinkoff?

Posters featuring the strange query are peppered throughout Blanchard Elementary. Walking along the halls, Dr. Barb Kohlfeld, Blanchard's principal, will occasionally stop students and ask the same question. "I don't know," they reply.

"You will soon," Kohlfeld says.

In fact, everyone at the elementary school will soon know who Zinkoff is. Parents, school staff and students alike will read Jerry Spinelli's "Loser" as part of Blanchard's annual schoolwide read.

"Loser" is about the childhood of Donald Zinkoff, a boy who is a little different than the other students but doesn't realize it.

"Parts of it are kind of sad. He's almost a little Forrest Gump," said Lewis. "It made me think about my elementary school days. There's a lot of discussion to it."

The books are being distributed to students this week.

"We try to get the anticipation going," said Kohlfeld. "It's amazing the response I get from parents and how much they love it."

The idea for a schoolwide read originated three years ago from the city's United We Read program.

"You bring to anything you read your own experiences and values," said Kohlfeld. "I thought, wouldn't it be great if we all read the same book at school. We try to pick poignant books that stick with you."

The books are paid for through the school's federal Title I funds. There are a variety of activities planned throughout February to commemorate the book. First, copies of the book go home for parents to read with their children.

Later in the month, the cafeteria will serve snickerdoodle cookies, a favorite of Zinkoff. Students will wear giraffe hats, another Zinkoff favorite. Community members will visit the school to discuss the book.

The whole project is fun, teachers say, but is also beneficial to students.

"Reading aloud to your children is important," said Mary Ann Lewis, a kindergarten teacher at Blanchard. "It helps them develop language and increases their vocabulary."

cclark@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 128

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