By EMMA BARTLETT Cranston High School East's National Honor Society students recently recorded themselves reading children's books aloud. Including classics such as "The Giving Tree" and "Where the Wild Things Are," students shared their love for
Cranston High School East’s National Honor Society students recently recorded themselves reading children’s books aloud. Including classics such as “The Giving Tree” and “Where the Wild Things Are,” students shared their love for reading with younger, elementary-aged kids by having the videos posted to the high school library’s website and making them available to the public.
Nina Di Iorio and Blake Damforth, the school’s National Honor Society co-advisors, developed the reading-aloud initiative last year and presented it to students who immediately agreed that they wanted to pursue the project.
“Pre-covid, students usually go out and complete community service. We had to switch to covid-friendly projects so they can do what they can without risking their health,” said Di Iorio.
In a normal year, National Honor Society members must complete twenty volunteer hours over the course of a year and complete two group projects to be a part of the society. Because of the pandemic, the requirement was lowered to ten hours.
Since the read-aloud project went well the year before, Di Iorio presented the idea to this year’s National Honor Society students in October. Each high school student had to record their video by Dec. 1 and could choose any elementary-aged book. To ensure there were no repeats, Di Iorio asked students to sign up their book on a Google Doc so everyone knew what had been taken.
The read-aloud videos range from two minutes to 17 minutes in length. Many students were creative with their storytelling, such as Alex, who read “The Cat in the Hat” with an image of the Cat behind him. Mariam, who read “Good Night Like This,” added soft piano music to her recording and is the perfect book choice for going to bed. Other students shared their favorite books such as Trinity who told readers she has read “Can You Say Peace?” so many times that one of the pages now falls out. Zhuo also took the time to introduce youngsters to Star Wars with the book “The Yoda Chronicles” and Emani used fun and engaging voice inflections in her reading of “Pig the Elf” while Susanna’s dog, Luna, sat down with her in reading the book “Truelove.”
Students could also choose to record their videos in any location – most did theirs from home or in a quiet place. After the recordings were completed, Cranston East’s librarian, Heidi Blais, loaded them to the school’s website.
In order to let elementary-aged children know about the available videos, Di Iorio reached out to Hasbro Children’s Hospital and Boston’s Children Hospital and informed them of what the students did and how patients could access the videos; Cranston Public Schools also shared a link to the videos on the department’s Facebook page. Di Iorio is waiting to hear back from Hasbro Children’s Hospital, but Boston’s Children Hospital reached out and thanked Di Iorio and students for thinking of their patients.
The read-aloud project will act as the National Honor Society students’ first group project, and they are now looking for their next initiative. In past years for the second project, students have written letters to Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends letters in care packages to soldiers and those in active military service. National Honor Society members have also written letters and cards for seniors in local nursing homes.
Cranston High School East’s read-aloud videos are available to view at guides.rilinkschools.org/thunderbolts/videos and will remain there indefinitely. Clicking on a video will bring open a new tab and bring readers to YouTube to watch. As a bonus, young kids can watch last year’s National Honor Society members for even more stories.
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