Much like a skeleton key, reading is a fundamental element to success and can open many doors, according to retired Roosevelt Elementary School teacher Linda Walmsley.
The former longtime kindergarten instructor, along with members of the Burbank Teachers Assn., organized what Walmsley hopes is the first of many Burbank Community Read-Ins on Saturday morning at the Burbank Town Center.
Between 30 and 40 children took part in events that involved various participants, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), former Burbank Unified Teacher of the Year Dugaldo Gutierrez as well as personnel from Providence St. Joseph Medical Center and the local police and fire departments, along with Burbank Vice Mayor Sharon Springer.
“I see this and believe we can create a culture and triple the amount of kids year after year and continue this to show that reading makes all the difference in the success of anybody in their life,” Walmsley said.
The retired teacher gave Schiff one of her favorite books, “Amelia and Eleanor Go For A Ride,” written by Pam Munoz Ryan. It’s about the friendship and a secret late-night plane flight involving American female trailblazers Amelia Earhart and Eleanor Roosevelt.
“I got to read a story that I’d never read before … a true story,” Schiff said.
The congressmen read to about a dozen children and said he was also delighted with the turnout.
“This is such quintessential Burbank, where the community comes out — doctors from St. Joseph’s hospital and city council members, the police chief and others — to read to the kids,” he said.
Roosevelt Elementary student Casey Black, 9, sat in Schiff’s circle and listened intently before giving his takeaway.
“Back then, a lot of women couldn’t do a lot, but I learned Amelia Earhart was the first women to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean,” said Black, who had a book autographed by Schiff.
Youngsters in Gutierrez’s reading circle were surprised as the McKinley Elementary dual-immersion first-grade teacher conducted a bilingual English-and-Spanish read-in.
Gutierrez read, “¿De dónde viene la fruta?,” which translates into “where does the fruit come from,” and gave out several children’s books as prizes if they correctly answered questions.
“I really enjoyed the experience because I got kids to tune into a book in another language,” Gutierrez said. “It was great to see the community out, and it shows that parents are really involved and are investing in their children’s future. That motivates me to want to do a better job with my own students.”
Adam Hochberg, a social science teacher at Burroughs High School, was in attendance with his wife and children, Brevin and Greenley.
“Both my books are in Spanish,” Brevin said, holding up his prizes for answering Gutierrez’s questions accurately. “I’m going to try to read them.”
Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse, Burbank Fire Battalion Chief Mark Hatch, Elizabeth Goldman, Burbank’s library services director, Dr. Christian Herrera, a physician at Providence St. Joseph, and critical care nurse Debbie Buffham also took part.
“I was a little concerned at first, but I’m very happy with the turnout,” Walmsley said. “This is pure joy.”