Addressing a class of 86 students in Cleveland High School's Careers With Children course Monday, instructor Bob O'Connor asked, "How far do we want the children from the storyteller?"
After a brief pause, O'Connor answered his own question.
"Twelve feet," he said. "So come on down."
As the students inched closer, O'Connor introduced guest speaker Darlene Daniel, who teaches children's literature extension courses at UCLA.
Daniel's lecture kicked off the school's new literacy program for children, "The Corner Stone of Education," made possible by a $2,000 grant awarded by Cluster 6 of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Through the new program, Cleveland students will read to kindergartners through third-graders at Winnetka Elementary School in Canoga Park and to preschoolers at Canoga Park Children's Center and Cleveland's on-campus preschool from books purchased with the grant money. The reading sessions will begin April 13 and continue through the end of the spring semester in June, O'Connor said.
In her half-hour lecture, Daniel discussed what to look for in a children's book and techniques on reading to children, such as using voice modulation.
"You have the power to change inflection in your voice to create interest and to influence the people you're reading to," Daniel said. "It's the most powerful tool that you have."