‘The Lemonade War’ unites Eureka Springs Elementary School
Going into the spring semester, everyone at Eureka Springs Elementary School is on the same page –– literally. Instructional facilitator Chrys McClung said the students and staff have been reading “The Lemonade War” as part of the Read to Them program.
McClung said the school received a grant from the Carroll County Community Foundation to purchase books for everyone in the school, saying this is the second book everyone has read this year. There will be a third book later in the semester, McClung said, but she hasn’t decided what it will be yet.
“The program builds a sense of community, and we all have a common language now,” McClung said. “We can ask the kids something about the book, or what they think is going to happen. It helps us connect.”
As part of the program, McClung said, staff members have recorded themselves reading a chapter of the book. Each chapter is available online, McClung said, in case students don’t have someone to read to them at home. When they’re at school, McClung said, the students hear the chapters from several different people. So far this year, she said, the students have heard from principal Clare Lesieur, school resource officer Joey Luper and Eureka Springs Carnegie Public Library director Loretta Crenshaw.
“The idea of reading aloud was fun to me, and I actually did practice beforehand so I could use the right inflections,” Crenshaw said. “I think it’s a great program. It’s a good way to bring the school all together, all talking about the same thing.”
Crenshaw said she’s a fan of audiobooks and loved reading aloud to the students.
“It kind of binds you together. It creates a shared experience between the two of you,” Crenshaw said. “It also engages different areas of your brain when you’re reading versus when you’re listening. If people have trouble with the actual reading, the audio can help them a lot with that.”
Elementary school librarian Karen Johnson said she’s seen the value of reading aloud to students.
“It increases their own reading fluency,” Johnson said. “They have to hear it and know what it sounds like, so they can read it themselves.”
McClung agreed, saying reading aloud to children is the most important thing a parent can do.
“This book is probably on a third- or fourth-grade level, and we’re reading to kindergartners,” McClung said. “They’re learning so much language through someone reading it to them.”
“Every chapter is read by a staff member, so they can go in and listen to the chapter,” Johnson said. “If they don’t have someone at home to read to them, they can listen for themselves.”
Students can find all that information at www.EurekaSpringsReads.com. McClung said the website has been a game-changer, saying students can be involved with the program at school and at home.
“There’s a blog with a whole bunch of information about the books we have read or are reading,” McClung said. “There’s different questions for every chapter. Everyone can access the blog and read with us.”
McClung continued, “Our focus this year is literacy. We are trying to get them literate in every way, with a computer, with typing and in conversation. That’s a form of writing, too.”
Even better, McClung said, “The Lemonade War” allows students to learn about subjects like math and the economy. In the book, a brother and a sister compete to see whose lemonade stand is the most successful. To illustrate this concept, McClung said, the students tasted yellow and pink lemonade to vote on which they liked best. It was a close race, with yellow receiving 126 votes and pink receiving 123 votes.
“This book has a lot of economic terms in it, so we did the vote to incorporate some math,” McClung said.
Johnson said the program is going well, saying the students are excited to read the same book.
“The kids like to know the adults are interested in the same books they’re interested in,” Johnson said. “If we can talk about it with them, it makes it so much more enjoyable for them. They’re excited about it.”
McClung thanked the Carroll County Community Foundation for making the program possible.
“We definitely want to thank them for supporting us on this,” McClung said. “The kids love it.”
“And they get to own a book,” Johnson added, “so that book is theirs to keep forever.”