Children will again experience the adventures of the Pioneer Reading Safari on March 28.

Next Friday marks nine years that Pioneer Elementary School has hosted the event in which parents, family, friends and volunteers including police officers, firefighters, business personnel, assisted living residents, junior and high school students and others spend a school day reading to pre-kindergarten and kindergarten students in safari-themed rooms. 

The safari promotes early childhood literacy while encouraging adults to read aloud to children.

The Reading Safari began in 2005 when the newly built Pioneer Elementary was first opened. In an effort to encourage the community to see the new school, Pioneer joined the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Club's Christmas Tour of Homes. 

After the event, Pioneer staff members Judy Fields, Kelly Riddle and Kitty Rosser started the Reading Safari to allow Graham to experience the new school each year while encouraging parents and adults to read to their children.

The safari runs from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Classrooms will be decorated in a multitude of themes, including a bat cave, a dog house and the ocean. The decorations are all made by the school's teachers. Each reading station will have eight to 10 books for students to choose from. Afterward, the students and their readers grab a cookie and a cup of punch provided by Pioneer's Parent Teacher Organization, and then make their way back to class.

“It's a known fact that when parents get involved with their kids early, they do better in school,” said Linda Bryant, librarian at Pioneer. “Even if it's their grandparents, aunts or uncles.”

If a student doesn't have a family member to read to them, volunteers are assigned a child. No child is left out of experiencing the safari.

“Everyone gets read to,” Bryant said. “That makes kids feel special. They're all going to get to experience (The event).”

Pioneer teacher Barbara Lewis said that parents enjoy the experience of reading to their children, too.

“It gets parents excited about reading,” she said.

Isabel Smith, Graham ISD Parents as Teachers director, said that the safari completely immerses the adult and student in reading and places a higher premium on the value of literacy.

“It might get a parent who normally doesn't sit down and read with their kids to start to do it with them (more often),” she said. “People's reactions (when they come to the safari), they don't realize the magnitude of the event.”


Pioneer Reading Safari

• 8:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m., Friday, March 28, at 

  Pioneer Elementary School

• Parents, family members,

  volunteers welcome to  

  read to students

• Bring ID for visitor's badge 

  or call ahead if you are a 

  previous visitor

Pioneer Elementary School

(940) 549-2442

Read more in Sunday's Graham Leader.