Students posing with music teacher Mr. LabnonBefore starting a new unit, English teacher Kristen Montgomery Breh recently asked her students if they identify themselves as readers and what they like or dislike about reading.

Most of her class began writing and speaking about how they aren’t readers and don’t like reading. She asked if they’d always been that way. Then, a student mentioned a music teacher who used to read to them in elementary school. Suddenly, the class came alive. They spoke about how she brought the stories to life for them, how she transported them away to other places and times. She made reading fun. As they spoke about her, the energy and enthusiasm skyrocketed; their eyes sparkled as they shared these memories.

Mrs. Montgomery Breh asked her students if they wanted to call her and they all cheered yeah!

“I asked the kids what one thing they wanted to tell her and they said, “Tell her to come read to us! And tell her to bring the tuning fork,” said Montgomery Breh.

Music teacher Ms. Labnon reading to studentsShortly after this day, students in this class took a break from the typical high school schedule to reach back into their youth and do something too many hadn’t done in a while: truly enjoy some books. BES Music teacher Ms. Labnon came to read to them their old favorites like Puff the Magic Dragon, On Top of Spaghetti, and Pancake. Some sang along with her, some became animated, and every single one of them sat riveted the whole time and at some point, let out at least a small smile.

“I hope as the year progresses I can help them reunite with books. It is my goal. But if I fail, I hope that at least for 30 minutes their freshman year, they could rekindle their love of stories, that someday they might try again or read to their own children, who in turn might grow to love books as much as Ms. Labnon and I do,” said Montgomery Breh.

Here are some excerpts from letters that students wrote to Mrs. Labnon after her visit.

Students reacting to reading from Ms. Labnon“I still remember you being just as enthusiastic about these books in fifth grade as you are now.”

“…reading was with you…has encouraged me to give reading a second chance…”

“I remember when I was in 5th grade I was going through a tough time in my life and when I got to see you, you made me forget what was happening…”

“Thank you for reminding me how to have fun while reading…”

“You brought joy to my childhood.”

“It was fun to have you reading to us again. It brought the light out of all of us. You are a person that can make reading fun for us again.”

“You coming in on Friday brightened my whole day. Thank you for all the memories you gave me when I was younger and thank you for making a new one on Friday…After reading Puff the Magic Dragon I wanted to cry because it made me realize we’re growing up.”