Using School Shows to Strengthen Reading Skills

On a recent visit to Steele Lane Elementary school in Santa Rosa, LBC donor Julia Grant was impressed to see LBC’s From Page to Stage Reading Initiative in action. Later that week, Steele Lane’s third graders would see LBC’s performance of Cenicienta (a Cinderella story), which is based on the children’s book of the same title. When Julia arrived, they were in the middle of discussing the book, which they received for free as part of the From Page to Stage program. The impact was instantly clear. The students were eager to discover what every page would reveal about the story that would later come to life on stage. The very notion of it captured their imagination. They asked questions. They suggested ideas.  When Julia later learned about the alarming rise in the number of local school children at risk of lifelong reading struggles, she met with LBC to discuss the problem and pledge her support to help keep the From Page to Stage program thriving for students.

“Young children have incredible appetites for knowledge and insatiable curiosity about how the world works,” said Julia. “By third grade, their minds are primed to decode the language that gives them agency in their own learning. From Page to Stage provides the tools to make that process uplifting and fun, which keeps them engaged in reading. I want to make sure LBC can expand this program so that more children get the support they need for the cognitive development, academic success, and future opportunities they deserve.”

Because many performances for young audiences are based on popular books, back in 2016, LBC recognized the unique opportunity to use School Shows to promote literacy in under resourced districts. LBC’s From Page to Stage program is a successful reading initiative that offers a lifeline for struggling readers in third grade, when children should begin to master reading skills, building self-confidence and enjoyment. Designed to promote critical literacy skills and a life-long love of reading, the program provides classrooms with a set of free activities tailored to each performance, tickets to the show, and transportation to the LBC. Additionally, a few weeks before the performance, we donate a copy of the book to every student, and one of our arts educators goes into the classroom to prepare them for their theater experience. At the end of the show, the students enjoy a Q&A with the characters, free cookies, and milk donated by Clover Sonoma!

“Despite the difficulties they may have in learning to read, the kids in this program have insatiable enthusiasm and willingness to do the work,” said Melanie Weir, Associate Director of Education and Community Engagement. “They are smart, they are excited. Their minds are craving whatever connections will open doors to knowledge, ideas, and stories.”

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