Reading is fundamental at Northside

Published 5:34 am Saturday, February 14, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Northside Child Development Center celebrated literacy this week by providing two events that promote the joy of reading.
As a part of the Reading is Fundamental program, the school brought in Niles District Library's Silly Sisters and provided a free book distribution, in which each student was allowed to pick out a brand new book.
Reading is Fundamental is a grant that allows the school to have these free book giveaways three times each year.
Edith Ervin, deputy director of Head Start and family services at Northside, said the books are funded through the grant and matching funds from the school.
She said Northside received $1,584 from the grant and matched a third of that money by spending $528.
On Thursday, the school set up tables and allowed each student to select a book of their choice.
Ervin said this allows the school to help promote reading at home.
As a part of the grant, Northside must also provide three reading programs for their students each year.
For Northside's second reading program of the year, they scheduled a visit from the Silly Sisters, who brought their amusing antics and an infectious love of reading to the school on Tuesday.
The silly pair that make up this dynamic duo are Niles librarian Darlene Jackson and her friend Linda Canfield.
It all started four years ago, when Jackson came home with a size of 70 pair of men pants that she had purchased for $1.
She was not sure what to do with the pants, but after talking with Canfield, they eventually came up with the trademark of the Silly Sisters act.
The two women devised a routine to incorporate their love of reading with some silly behavior that young kids could enjoy.
The end result was two bumbling women with a goofy costume that includes both of them squeezing into the oversized pants and waddling around together.
They have been performing by request at area schools and at the library ever since.
On Tuesday afternoon, the "sisters" performed in front of a crowd of over 100 students in Northside's activity room.
They came out stumbling around and repeatedly singing, "ain't it great to be silly, boom, boom."
In addition to the shared pair of pants, the two women wore boots, flannel shirts and hats to go along with their barnyard theme.
They started out by reading a book called "The Barnyard Song." The children were encouraged to join in to help make all of the sounds of barnyard animals.
They then led an interactive rendition of "Old McDonald," using props to indicate which animal they were singing about.
Much to the delight of the young students, they ended their routine with a "barnyard dance."
Jackson encouraged the children to come visit her at the library and they exited the activity room while singing, "ain't it great to be silly?"
Northside will be participating in the third and final Reading is Fundamental program sometime this April.