The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Feb 27, 2013

Opera makes reading fun again

Posted by Valerie Nahmad

By Stefanie Hew, Florida Grand Opera From maracas to the triangle, every child has the opportunity to play a part in the story with Florida Grand Opera’s Read Along, Sing a Song program – a free literacy workshop series that incorporates music into the reading process. In partnership with Miami-Dade County and Broward County Public Libraries, the program uses a music-focused educator, Jean Senale or “Miss Jeannie,” to guide elementary-age children through this delightful rediscovery of reading through music.

“Every month, I have the privilege of reminding the children just how magical and fun the world of books can be. This season, we traveled to Spain with Ferdinand the bull, Paris with Crictor the boa constrictor, and Harlem with Ella Fitzgerald,” said Sensale. As she walks students through the story, Senale incorporates elements from different artistic disciplines found within opera to make the story come alive for her young spectators. She encourages the children to find their inspiration by listening to the music and then becoming engaged in it through active participation.

“The program allows children to use their entire body and imagination to act out a story. These engaging activities create enthusiasm for reading through creative expression,” said Cerise Sutton, Director of Education at Florida Grand Opera. That can mean clapping, playing a tambourine, singing along, or participating in a little dance. In the end, they are breathless, giggling, and thrilled to discover how they can lose themselves in the story. “The community response we received has been great and we look forward to bringing the program into 12 more South Florida community libraries next season,” said Sutton. “We have even been asked by teachers to bring the program into the schools.”

Remaining Read Along, Sing a Song events include:

  • March 21 from 2-3pm: Carnival of the Animals by John Lithgow. Riverland Branch Library, 2710 W. Davie Blvd, Ft. Lauderdale
  • March 27 from 3-4pm: Carnival of the Animals by John Lithgow. Kendale Lakes Branch, 15205 SW 88 ST., Miami
  • April 5 from 4-5pm:  Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin. Pompano Beach Branch Library, 1213 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano beach,
  • April 13 from 10:30-11:30am: Click, Clack, Moo, Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin.Sunny Isles Beach Branch, 18070 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach
Read Along, Sing a Song is free and open to the public, but reservations are required. To reserve your spot today, contact Cerise Sutton at or 305-854-1643 ext. 1100. To maximize the learning experience, sessions are limited to 25 children each. For more information, please visit


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