The total number of students invited was just under 60 (remember, just our kiddos). For a typical event, getting a quarter of our kids would be a success. For this evening, we invited families to arrive about 6:45 because we wanted to really get started at 7:00. We began in a resource classroom where we could all gather as folks trickled in. At 6:30 families were already arriving. We had bookmarks ready for the kids to stamp. There were almost 100 bookmarks and they were almost all well stamped by 6:45.
Due to the astounding turnout (quite a bit larger than we anticipated), I gathered most of the kiddos on the carpet and read them a big book. This was a last minute idea, I saw a big book sitting nearby and rolled with it. It worked quite well, thankfully.
About 7:00 we all moved on to our own classrooms. We had a short, about four minute, video to show of bedtime reading. (The video was taken by one of my students last year. She recorded her mom reading with her younger brother and then her mom recorded the two kids reading together. All of it in pajamas curled up in bed. I took two minute segments from each bit to share.) We used the video to highlight bedtime reading routines and benefits. We didn't want to talk at families too much so we kept this part short.
For the next twenty minutes families read together. We had worried that this might not work well, that folks might not buy into it, but our fears were unfounded. I wandered around, listened as families read, suggested other books, and laughed with families. I watched one mom and her two boys reading several Elephant and Piggie books laughing until they nearly cried. At the end she said to me, "We've got to get some of these!" I spoke with one mom about her daughter's fabulous reading this year and she told me that her daughter had invented "Power Hour" at their house. For an hour they all read together, moving from one bed to another. At first the younger brother didn't like it, apparently, but now he's enjoying it too. Some kids wanted to read with their friends while parents read with younger siblings. Others, the whole family read together.
Just before 7:30 I stopped everyone. I heard at least one parent say, "Already?" It made my night. Before leaving, every child, our students and their siblings, got a brand new book to keep. (We bought the $1 books from the preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, and fourth grade Scholastic catalogs.)
I had 13 out of 20 students there with families. Across the hall there were, I believe 11 out of 17. I'm not sure about the third classroom. It was an impressive turnout. We teachers all went home exhausted and fell asleep in the pajamas we had worn all evening.