Kidz World’s Literacy Month

Early Childhood Coordinator Toshiko Pinkney spent time reading with the children at Kidz World. 

BY MARCY PALMERI | Contributor

ST. PETERSBURG — Each year, the owner of Kidz World Preschool, Arthurene Williams, takes her Literacy Month to a whole new level by involving her students, their families and the community in a whirlwind of reading, learning, and whimsy.

Williams hosted a calendar of literacy-related activities throughout February that encompassed something special for everyone. A calendar full of scheduled activities went home with each child and consisted of exercises in literature, science and fun with letters that the parents could do with their children.

Her “I Love to Read Day” initiative took place Friday, Feb. 20 with a guest list nothing short of impressive. The students took center stage as they were read to by Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, Chastity Bethel from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Attorney Keisha Bell, retired educator Gwen Anderson, Early Childhood Coordinator Toshiko Pinkney, Education Specialist at Pinellas County Schools Karen Davis-Pitchett, Cindy Seletos, board member for Early Learning Coalition, Attorney Lisa Brody and Simone Critton, a student at Pinellas Technical College (PTC).

Eight PTC students were also present during the read-in, acting as escorts for the readers by taking them to and from each classroom. The Early Childhood Education students were able to preview what their roles would consist of once they graduate and begin working in a preschool setting.

Once the guests were through with reading to the classes, each child was given a book and bookmarker of their own. Readers were then asked to judge the classroom doors, which were decorated according to age level and participation, each level winning a prize. Williams said the point of the event was to get the children excited about reading and learning.

In addition to the read-in, the bustling calendar of events called for a visit to the public library, the Pinellas County School’s Title 1 library story time, a visit from Clifford the Big Red Dog and some special time with Michael Stern, author of the Kokopelli book series.

Stern acted out one of his books, and Williams said he was very impressed with the children. “He couldn’t believe how good they were. They just sat and listened,” she said. This year, he re-enacted “Kokopelli and the Island of Chance,” and last year, he did “Kokopelli and the Butterfly.”

Stern donated books to the school, and the parents could purchase some directly from him at a discounted price.

Retired from the school system, Williams said she knows what the children will need to become successful students.

“The expectations are so different now. We do what we can at Kidz World to expose them to learning and reading. It’s all about the family,” she said. “If you are unable to master the fundamentals of reading at an early age, you are going to have trouble in all subjects. Preschool is now the foundation that elementary school used to be.”

Williams said many children these days are unprepared for elementary school, but she will make sure the students who attend her school are armed with the knowledge necessary to move forward. “This is a school, not a babysitting service or daycare.”

Kidz World has 116 students, ages one to VPK, and has been in business since 2001. The school is located at 50 50th St. S, St. Petersburg. For more information, please contact Williams by calling (727) 322-6316.

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