Students in kindergarten through second grade recently were invited to participate in a reading campout at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School.

Around 150 people attended the literacy event, more than organizers had anticipated.

With the lights turned off, students gathered around the makeshift campfire in the school gym while literacy coach Bridget Longmeier used an overhead projector to share the book “Flashlight” by Lizi Boyd.

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The book is unique because it contains no words but tells the story in pictures.

Instead of struggling with how to pronounce words correctly, students have the opportunity to think about what’s really happening in the story and can use their imaginations.

“I really like the wordless picture books because they promote using our ‘thinking’ voice and focusing on the comprehension part of reading, which is what I think we really need to work on with students,” Longmeier said.

Often, students know the words in a book and can read fluently but don’t know what is going on in the story, she said.

“We are really trying to focus on thinking about what we are reading and making predictions about what is coming next,” Longmeier said.

Other wordless books she recommends for parents to “read” with their children at home are “Unspoken” by Henry Cole, a book about the Underground Railroad told from a child’s perspective, and “Good Dog, Carl” by Alexandra Day.

Longmeier said she emphasizes using images and photographs when reading in classrooms at Brown, especially with English language learners.

“Sometimes, they get bogged down with the language and vocabulary in books, but if it is a photograph or illustration, they open up more and will talk about what they are thinking when they see the pictures,” she said.

At the end of the event, students received a special drawing of a camping scene to color created by their principal, Tony Hack; a Brown Bears flashlight; and ingredients to make s’mores at home.

Longmeier also provided parents with book talk ideas to make reading at home fun for their children.

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January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.