OAKLAND -- Award-winning author Matthew Gollub entertained an entranced audience just shy of 200 parents and children at Joaquin Miller Elementary School's family reading night.
The trilingual author entertained the families on Feb. 28 in English, Spanish, and Japanese, following a Chinese-themed dinner selected in honor of the Lunar New Year.
"It's important to support, reading, family and community," Principal Paulette Smith said. Smith stressed that this was a school -- not a Parent Teacher Association -- event. "It's nice to do an event from the school's perspective."
"Zippity-bing! A tropical tour," began Gollub's reading of his latest release, "The Jazz Fly 2: The Jungle Pachanga," published in 2010. Set to a Latin jazz melody, the book comes with a CD of Gollub lyrically reading his prose in Spanish and English.
Gollub has dedicated his life to encouraging children to read. His unique approach interweaves storytelling with song, creating a multi-sensory experience that both children and adults enjoy.
"This is the state of our society. Kids and adults do better when they are entertained," Gollub said.
"The way reading is taught in school, kids have lost the joy by middle school. They have lost the minutia for reading. If we maintain the enthusiasm, we don't have to drill and kill. This is a painless way to become conversant with language," Gollub said.
The school's librarian, Cindy Gullikson, met Gollub at a library conference.
"I thought he would be a good fit for the school. This is a big reading community," Gullikson said. "I want to make sure that every family gets the message."
Denise Geer, a consultant for the Oakland Literacy Project, agreed. She helps host family reading nights around the city.
"It's important to build community within the schools, and speak about the importance of reading to your child 20 minutes every night," she stressed.
Each child left the event with a free book donated by the school's families and local community organizations.
"They did a great job," said Mary Kline, the parent of a kindergartener and a second-grader. "The kids loved the music and clapping. We got to relax a bit."
"I think it was cool," fifth-grader Cameron Fleming said. "The author was enthusiastic and read with feeling. I'm glad I came."