School Pajama Party Promotes Literacy

Morningside Elementary School library looked more like a dormitory Tuesday as pajama-clad preschoolers with teddy bears in tow padded across the carpeted floor and sat down in beanbag chairs.

About 50 tykes and their parents laughed, oohed, aahed and applauded as Principal Nick A. Vasquez, Assistant Principal James Kennedy and office clerk Teresa Aguilar took turns sitting in a rocking chair and reading stories in Spanish.

As staff members read from such books as “Pan Pan Gran Pan” (“Bread, Bread Big Bread”) and “Una Semilla Nada Mas” (“A Seed Nothing More”), the children clutched rag-tag stuffed animals and listened in their Power Ranger, Spider-Man, 101 Dalmatians and red plaid flannel jammies.

When story time was over, the children shuffled in cartoon-character slippers to a table laden with hot cocoa and cookies.


Administrators decided to throw the pajama party to promote literacy among the younger set, Kennedy said. The event was part of Morningside’s School Readiness Language Development Program, designed to help preschoolers get ready for kindergarten.

Today, English-speaking students will have books read to them in English, Kennedy said.

“When children read a book with an adult,” Kennedy said, “they get much more interaction than they do when they are watching television or a video, which is much more passive.”

By inviting parents to the pajama party, Vasquez hoped to make the point that literacy is a family affair and not limited to students and teachers.

When parents read to their children, Vasquez said, children develop such skills as language, critical thinking, comprehension, listening and motor (turning the page and moving their eyes from left to right).

Another benefit, Vasquez said, is the physical closeness that occurs when parents read to children, making children feel more secure and confident.

“In this society, you have to be able to read to get ahead,” Vasquez said. “Reading is the greatest gift parents can give to their children.”