Volunteer Experiences: Book-O-Ween at CentroNía Public Charter School

11 18 by Anna Trainer


Growing up, I was the very definition of a bookworm. Both my mother and my aunt were librarians, and our house was constantly filling up with books and magazines. Even now as an adult, I have a hard time putting a book down, and I can often be found reading something new, even at three in the morning! Despite constant moving around and living in shoebox sized apartments, I hoard books, and currently an entire wall of my apartment is floor to ceiling bookshelves. You can take away my clothes, my food, my TV, but don’t touch my books!


Unsurprisingly, my love for reading has translated into a passion for promoting literacy and an interest in reading for all people. I feel that the success I have had in both education and industry have been a direct result of my bookishness. Therefore, when I saw the volunteer opportunity to help out with CentroNía’s Book-o-ween event, I didn’t hesitate to sign up!




CentroNía is DC’s bilingual public charter school, located in Columbia Heights. Their mission is to create high levels of academic achievement in both English and Spanish and to foster a strong multicultural community. The school includes children from pre-Kindergarten through the 6th grade, in classes taught primarily either in English or in Spanish. Book-o-ween is CentroNía’s book-centered Halloween celebration. In addition to costumes, a parade, and some general noise-making (what kid doesn’t love that?), the school brought in volunteers dressed up as book characters to read to each class. That’s where I came in.




What was my costume? Being the bookworm I am, I had a very difficult time narrowing down a selection. When I learned that I would be reading to third graders, I recalled my favorite book from that age, and knew I had my pick: Little House on the Prairie.




Finding an apron and sunbonnet was surprisingly easy, so with book in hand and channeling the pioneering spirit of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I headed to Columbia Heights. Upon entering the front doors of the building, I was immediately struck by the friendly, inviting atmosphere. I was greeted by the front desk staff as well as a man dressed as Puck  (hey, it was Halloween!). I followed several other adults to get our class assignments. The children we passed seemed fairly interested in our group, as it’s not every day you see a bunch of grownups dressed up like Superman, the Cat in the Hat, Alice in Wonderland, and many others!




The children in the class I read to all seemed fairly interested in what was being read to them. Unfortunately, I only had time to read two chapters of my book, but I am hoping that at least a few of them liked it enough to pick the book up for themselves from the school library. Several of the children had questions afterwards, including, of course, the required, “What happens at the end?”




After the reading activity, the real fun for the kids began. The entire school lined up outside and took up various musical instruments and paraded around the block, making noise to their hearts’ content. It was a fitting end to a great day.




CentroNía is a great institution with a strong culture. Everyone involved in this event was warm, enthusiastic, and happy to be involved. I am glad I got the chance to participate, and I hope to help out there again someday!