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Grace Miller Elementary hosts 15th annual Family Reading Night

Tuesday, Feb. 18 | By Hannah Dellinger
Grace Miller Elementary's librarian, Vickie Estep, reading the book, "For Love and Roast Chicken" to a group of children. Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Hannah Dellinger
Grace Miller Elementary School was bustling on Tuesday night with families and community members joining together for a common goal: to encourage children to explore literature.

It was Grace Miller’s 17th annual Family Reading Night. There was a huge turnout, bigger than last year’s, according to many returning parents. The children, and many adults, came dressed in comfortable pajamas, as per tradition.

The school was set up with numerous classroom stations, each with a teacher, administrator or a member of the community with one or two books that they read aloud to the children.

Families moved around the school together in groups, migrating to each room and listening to unique stories from around the world. There was also a book-trade set up in the cafeteria for the children to trade in their old, tired books for ones that are new to them.

“They get together as a community and they get to hear from different people’s viewpoints,” said Vickie Estep, the Grace Miller librarian. “They also get to hear stories from all over the world.”

Estep read aloud to the children in an entertaining and animated fashion. She even spiced up the experience with varying character voices, facial expressions and sound effects. The children were on the edge of their seats, thoroughly engaged, while she read.

“[The event] will encourage them to read and hopefully to try different types of stories,” said Estep.

Haf Corbin, an English teacher at Cedar Lee Middle School and recent nominee for the
Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, volunteered as a reader at the event. It was her first year participating, and she enjoyed having the opportunity to inspire young readers.

“It’s an opportunity to see so many different people from within the county and to be exposed to so many different kinds of books can only be a good thing,” said Corbin. “And they’re reading.”

While Corbin read aloud, many children and parents whispered to each other that they enjoyed hearing her British accent liven up the author’s words. Corbin got the children involved with her story telling with an interactive book that had the children taking turns to press and touch the pages.

Heather Quang, a parent of a 10-year-old at Grace Miller, attended the Reading Night for her first time this year.

“It’s an awesome idea,” said Quang. “[My daughter] is pretty excited about reading, and this made her even more excited.”

Quang said that her daughter and her friends excitedly talked about the event for weeks leading up to it.

“She talked to her friends at school about it a lot and they wanted to come together, so I think it’s also a social thing, too,” said Quang.

Beatris Fuentes, a parent of a 9-year-old at Grace Miller has attended the event for three years in a row. She said that her daughter always looks forward to it.

“It’s nice to come in with your kids, especially the little ones and have them be read to,” said Fuentes. “The kids really enjoy the whole concept of coming in pajamas, too.”

Julissa Sanchez, Fuentes’ daughter, said that she enjoys spending quality time with her family at her school.

“My favorite part is coming in with my family,” said Sanchez.

Hope McGee has two children at Grace Miller. Her family has attended since her oldest was in kindergarten.

“It’s a lot of fun, we come every year,” said McGee. “The kids like to hear the stories and they love the book exchange.”

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