Conference combines learning and reading with art

Isabel Amezquita
Staff Writer

The LaFetra College of Education hosted its 16th annual Family Learning Conference with this year’s theme “Reading to the Rhythm,” May 7, for both parents, children and educators.  

The event, designed to promote reading in preschool though eighth grade, took place on from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Zoom. It featured children’s book authors including Ron DeGenova, Rene Colato, Caitlyn Varela and Derek Taylor Kent, among others. 

Parents, teachers, ULV faculty and children participated in various break-out sessions where authors read their books, provided advice for enhancing reading skills, offered music sessions, held raffle prizes and more. 

Parents and children also were offered book recommendations. They could read along, play music with nearby objects at home to make reading fun. They did puzzles, and played online games, and were encouraged to ask questions about what they learned.

Event organizers also provided translation, so the event activities were in English and Spanish.

Professor of Teacher Education Marga Madhuri discussed the significance of this year’s theme.

“We are celebrating the joy of combining reading with the arts,” Madhuri said. “There are parts in our brain that are only activated by music. It helps us learn better, so we want to make reading a joyous and celebratory act, and this event does just that.”

Irene Beltran, an academic advisor for the LaFetra College of Education, helped organize this event and served as a translator for those who spoke Spanish.

“I thank many teachers and students here because they help in donating books and dedicate their time and constant service in helping shape a child’s future,” Beltran said.

Author Caitlyn Varela, also known as Sissy, spoke to participants about her experience with dyslexia. 

“I … always struggled in school, trying to stay on top of everything, but I found something to help me along the way,” Varela said. “I wrote a book called ‘Doggy Daze, Jack and Princess.’ And even though it was a tough thing to do for me, it was something I enjoyed doing and love speaking about how writing made my dyslexia feel powerful rather than weak, and I wouldn’t change a thing.” 

Daniel Deniz, a second grader who attended Saturday, said that listening to Varela’s story made him want to create something of his own. 

“I liked how she got something positive and I want to do that too soon,” Deniz said. “I liked this event a lot too because it was fun with the music, and my sister is here listening to the Zoom too, and we even won a prize at the end. We can’t wait to go pick up our prize.”

Isabel Amezquita can be reached at

Isabel Amezquita, a senior English major and communications minor, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.


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