Excited about reading

Rita Linder, reading interventionist at Garfield Elementary School (left), blends in with the characters from "The Chronicles of Narnia" on a float outside the school Friday, May 22. With help from Ruth Gmeinder on the costumes and her brother with the trailer, Linder waved to her students as they returned their Chromebooks to the school in an effort to get them excited about reading over the summer. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

With school out and the weather turning warm, it’s that time of year teachers begin to dread.

Not the summer vacation part, but the summer slide.

This year is even more worrisome than normal, with students ending the year outside of the classroom via distance learning. In an effort to beat that summer slide and make sure students keep up their reading and academic skills, Rita Linder, a reading interventionist at Garfield Elementary School, created a float to get her kids’ attention.

When Garfield students stopped by the school in late May to drop off their Chromebooks and pick up report cards, they were met with a large “Chronicles of Narnia” themed float, complete with brightly colored decorations and Linder dressed up in a costume to match.

“We wanted to encourage kids to be reading this summer just because we know it’s going to be more difficult with the distance learning, and then also just having access to books and everything,” Linder said of the float. “Usually you have them right in the classroom and you get them all excited about (reading) and show them all these books. So we thought if we put together a float, this is one way of visually reminding them.”


And the float seemed to do just that. The Narnia theme even grabbed the attention of some parents, who remembered reading the fantasy book series when they were younger.

“It was really just inspiring to do that and to get those relationships going and talking about the different options for books out there,” Linder said. “... Anything we can do to encourage reading.”

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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