At the International School of Florence, there is a lot of buzz around books. In an era where screens, cell phones and AI technology are factoring ever more into our lives, ISF literacy leaders are very focused on driving the importance of reading.
At the Junior School, educators get an early start in Foundation, where students are introduced to the concept of compelling stories coming to life from the inside of books. Teachers work to provide constant exposure to a range of engaging age-appropriate book options to keep the minds of their students churning with the power of words and images. Reading Intervention specialist Diane Lutz captures in a Wiley Blevins quote the heart of their mission: “The gift of reading is one of the greatest gifts we can give a child. It opens up a world of possibility.” Working closely with classroom teachers and specialising in Multi Language Learners (MLL), she aids in recognising specific student needs and supporting their learning path.
Paola Scopelliti, the School Librarian, also supports this mission. She curates a rich, inclusive library where students can gather in family-style reading circles, research and study, or simply drift away in individual reading sessions. She keeps the library aligned with the times, proposing books that consolidate real-life experiences, such as International Women’s Day, Earth Day and Black History Month, as well as international children’s literature classics. In addition, Ms. Scopelliti oversees the connection with the Oblate public library in Florence, buddy-system peer reading groups, school reading challenges and frequent book fairs.
These efforts are not to be taken for granted. There is new research about the science of reading and child development that points to human brain evolution. While oral language develops naturally, reading is not a natural process. Reading requires systematic and cumulative instruction and formative collaboration between different parts of the brain. Put simply, for positive cerebral development, everybody needs to keep reading!
The importance of books isn’t limited to child education at ISF. Junior School Principal Tony Pascoe has created a parent/principal book club, where he meets with parents to discuss books focusing on International Education, demonstrating to the ISF community that striving for excellence in education is a never-ending process, where opinions and ideas matter, and dialogue and reflection are welcomed. Involving the parent community in this effort provides for inclusive perspectives, reflecting the ISF mission to “collaborate to add meaning to a shared future”.
With the holidays now over we should all keep in mind that a book is indeed a wonderful gift. In the Icelandic tradition of Jolabokaflod, people of all ages exchange books as gifts and then celebrate the cosy wonder of sharing Christmas treats and reading together. Students at the International School of Florence have done just that, nurturing their passion for reading while welcoming international holiday traditions.