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Lights in the Dark - from The Messenger

January 25, 2019

Half the gym at Butler Elementary School was enveloped in darkness Thursday night. In a small pool of light cast by her cell phone, second-grade teacher Alissa Martin sat with third-grade student Milynne Umsted, 8, against one of the walls.

Umsted read a book out loud.

Martin held the phone, something like a bright star in the sky at night.

It made for a nice cozy reading time during the annual Dodger Academy Flashlight Reading night.

“You get to read by flashlight,” Umsted said. “It’s more fun.”

A similar reading session helped Martin decide to enter teaching. During her fifth-grade year, a teacher brought blankets and flashlights for the students to pretend they were camping and reading under their desks.

“That was the year I decided to become a teacher,” she said.

Umsted is leaning in the same direction.

“Because I can teach how to do math … and reading,” she said.

While some of the parent and student readers were using flashlights, cell phone lights were popular too.

student reads to parents in dark room using a flashlight

“You’re at 68 percent,” Umsted noted of Martin’s phone. “You don’t use your phone much.”

Ashley Canto is the director of Dodger Academy. She’s a big advocate of parents reading with their children.

“If you read with them early it advances their reading skills,” she said. “It’s also an excellent bonding experience.”

The afternoon’s session also including chili, hotdogs and chips, courtesy of the Fort Dodge Noon Kiwanis Club. The club also supplied the books to read. Each child got to take their book home with them.

Carter Ashton, 8, a second-grade Butler student, found a nice more-or-less dark corner of the school’s library to read with his parents, Rich and Cassandra Ashton.

They had modern. up-to-date LED lights that could be worn on their heads like a miner’s light.

The evening’s book was a challenge.

“It’s a little tougher of a book,” Rich Ashton said.

Ashton said he was enjoying the challenge, and the book.

He particularly favors LEGO books. They contain both assembly instructions and stories.

Reading together is a frequent family activity.

“We try to as much as possible,” Rich Ashton said.

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