From Page to Stage Program: It’s curtains-up for future lifelong readers again!

For seven years, LBC’s “From Page to Stage” program was turning a lot of local third graders into lifelong readers. During the pandemic shutdown, however, 3rd graders at three local schools missed their turn to participate. It’s the kind of thing that keeps our Education and Community Engagement (ECE) staff up at night. This year, however, it’s curtains-up for the From Page to Stage program, as a new crop of third-graders is about to jumpstart their literary lifespans with a lot of fun-filled reading again!

 Nine years ago, when a donor offered to provide funding if LBC would offer a literacy project to local schools in neighborhoods where funding is historically lowest, our ECE staff didn’t hesitate. We already were presenting school shows and providing resources to teachers. We had the expertise in the arts and arts integrated curriculum. So, we only had two questions: 1. Could we blend arts and entertainment with literacy? 2. How well would it work?

The answer to number one was easy: All of our school shows are tied into state curriculum and often are adapted from books. We were already halfway there. In fact, to see children watch a storybook come to life on stage, clearly, it’s as though they are seeing magic. Turns out, “magic” also was the answer to question number two. Arts and entertainment are fun, joyful, and, to most children, irresistible. Why not use them to make reading irresistible too? We designed From Page to Stage so that it would not only improve literacy, but also instill in young students a lifelong love of reading through the arts.

Based on state standards, From Page to Stage introduces three age-appropriate books a year to local 3rd graders and presents a stage adaptation of each book along with a post-show discussion. The program gives students a new way to appreciate reading as well as exposure to the theater. “We know that students in low income districts are most at risk of literacy problems,” said Melanie Weir, ECE’s Associate Director. “We selected two local schools with the highest enrollment in the National Lunch Program and the highest rate of English language learners. We also focused on third graders because, while developmentally they know how to read, they also are at a pivotal stage when lifelong skills and a love of reading can be established.”  Soon after, a third school was added.

How it works

Three times a year, LBC brings a select book into the classrooms and gives each student a copy to keep. Using arts education techniques, Melanie guides them through the reading and then describes how a theater company might adapt the story. She also talks to them about what to expect at the theater, and the students discuss how to behave differently than they do watching a movie at home or in a movie theater. Soon after, the students arrive at LBC to see a live adaptation of the book and have an exclusive opportunity to meet the cast to ask questions after the performance. They have a milk-and-cookie party in the lobby, complete with donated milk from Clover Sonoma, one of the Center’s sponsors. Thanks to LBC’s donors and members, LBC covers the cost of the books, transportation to and from the theater, the show, and the party afterward.

“Everyone was ecstatic when we announced that From Page to Stage was returning,” said Melanie. “Teachers have seen clear and measurable results for their students. They often find students want to go back to the book to learn more about it, and many take it home to read to parents, grandparents, and siblings.”

“Personally, it’s one of my favorite parts of my job,” Melanie added. “To be able to watch third graders grow more sophisticated in their literacy and in theater etiquette is such a privilege. With the first book and stage performance, their questions started off silly. By the third, they are asking about techniques, other types of adaptations, and jobs in the theater.”

Learn more about LBC’s From Page to Stage program on our website, where you can also become a member and support our ECE programs.

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