Video: Teacher’s expert storytelling skills keep her kindergarten students engaged

Rachael Varga loves reading so much, she’s tattooed storybook characters on her arms

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

Attention spans may be getting shorter and shorter, but a good storyteller can still keep a child’s interest right to the end. While visiting Mitchell Elementary this week, we happened upon story hour in Rachael Varga’s kindergarten class. Lucky kids! 

“Watching my students be fully engaged and excited about books is a major part of why I love teaching kindergarten so much,” she says. “Hearing stories is such a powerful experience. I get to model and inspire kids to be lifelong readers, and to find books that bring them joy.”

She particularly loves reading the Gerald and Piggie series by Mo Willems.

“I have specific voices for the characters—which my students believe are their voices,” she says. “Throughout the last 13 years of teaching, Mo Willems has helped me ignite a passion for reading in students more than any other author and illustrator. The stories capture their attention and always have a fun, meaningful message.

In fact, she loves the characters so much that she recently had Gerald, Piggie, and the Pigeon reading tattooed on her arm.

On the other arm are tattoos of Shel Silverstein’s “Where the Sidewalk Ends” (front cover) and a Wild Thing from Maurice Sendek’s “Where the Wild Things Are.”

“I really am passionate about voices and reading, “ she says.

Rachael Varga reading to four students

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