The Scene: Quil Ceda Elementary at Tulalip
(Posted by League member Rita Ireland) At a recent Central Unit meeting, Leaguer Leslie Raphael took pairs of the grant books for reading to third graders to the school near her. She excitedly asked me if it was o.k. if her friend could read to the students. Any way to reach more students in this Centennial suffrage project is a go with me. Little did I know how energetic her friend would be in this endeavor. Barbara Keithly took to the readings like a suffragist on her way to The Capitol. She returned to the school three times in order to reach all the third graders.
She shared, “When I started each day, I told the children that I was in a 100-year-old dress that belonged to my grandmother. The reason that I wore something so old was that I was going to read a book that happened more than 100 years ago.”
Setting the Tone:
“I started out by telling the children that when our country was started, our founding fathers wrote the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. They wrote that ‘all men are created equal.’ But that did not mean women! That meant that women could not vote! And women wanted to participate in deciding how the country was run.
“After I read the title, we talked about transportation at that time. I told them that cars were very new; that very few people owned a car. So roads were dirt trails for wagons, horses and buggies. I mentioned that the women were very brave to try such a long trip, and it would be difficult to find gas, because there were very few gas stations! They certainly didn’t have highways and freeways like we do now.
“When I started the story, I asked if the children would like to help me read the book? I told them that every time I raised one finger up high, they should say ‘Votes for Women!’ I inserted the chant frequently into the book. Whenever there was a crowd in the story, I signaled the children to say, ‘Votes for Women!’ That seem to keep them engaged, and they enjoyed helping with the story.
The Lesson Unfolds: From Our Country to Outhouses
She continued, “Then I just read the book, pausing to show the pictures to the children on all sides of me. I practiced a number of times, so that I pretty well knew the words and didn’t really need to see them on the page. I would also pause when children had questions.”
When I asked Leslie about the extraneous learning, she responded, “The children have been very responsive, and attentive. Especially Thursday, the third graders had all sorts of questions about the book, ‘How did they get water?’ ‘How did they go poop?’ So we talked about outhouses, wood stoves and wells. And whether Nell and Alice got hyper eating so much candy; why pets aren’t allowed in hotels. It was fun.”
“At the end, I asked the children if they know someone who votes. A few children raised their hands. I suggested that they might go home today and ask their family – their mothers, fathers and older sisters and brothers if they vote.”
Final Words from Leslie:
Leslie told her friend Barbara that she was …”the absolutely best person to present this story on behalf of the LWVSC to the school children at Quil Ceda Elementary! The personal touch, the dress from the 1920s, what a marvelous connection with your grandmother — makes all the difference.”
We may not all have our grandma’s 1920 dress, but our Leaguers are sharing insightful stories about their readings with third graders. (An Edmonds librarian shared good news about League member Michelle Murnane’s experience last week.) Let us know if you have a story or still want to be a part of this ongoing project.