Liberty County students dressed like “Fancy Nancy” and “The Boy Who Looked Like Lincoln” last week to prove that they can read in a house or on a mouse.
The schools participated in National Children’s Book Week, an effort spearheaded by the Children’s Book Council to engage young students in literacy with its theme “Take Reading to New Heights.”
In keeping with the theme, Liberty Elementary Principal Chris Anderson challenged the students to read a combined 4,000 books during the week — and if they met that goal, he agreed to a dare. The students exceeded the goal with 5,125 books read.
Winds whipped around Anderson, dressed as “The Cat in the Hat,” as he read from a Coastal Electric Cooperative cherry picker suspended high above the entire student body.
Clutching the side of the picker in one hand and a book and a microphone in the other, Anderson read “I Can Read with My Eyes Shut” by Dr. Seuss to show the students that reading is both fun and important.
LCSS Superintendent Dr. Judy Scherer later climbed into the cherry picker and read one of her favorite books, “The Little Engine That Could” by Watty Piper.
“There’s a lot of good children’s literature out there, but I chose this one because of its message: If you think you can, you can,” Scherer said before reading the book.
Earlier in the day, Scherer was at Button Gwinnett Elementary to take part in its inaugural literary fair, coordinated by third-grade teacher Tracie Chavis.
During the fair, third-graders dressed as book characters of their choice stood in front of trifold display boards decorated to represent their respective tales and spoke to younger students and teachers about the books.
“It’s like a book report on steroids,” Button Gwinnett Elementary curriculum coordinator Beverly Faircloth said. Like the students, Faircloth dressed like a mouse to represent the book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” by Laura Joffe Numeroff.
Students selected their books and then had to analyze the plot, characters and morals before getting to dress like their favorite characters.
Parents also were instrumental in preparing for the fair, Faircloth said.
Deion Nathan, a third-grader in Chavis’ class, said his mom helped him create his board dedicated to “The Boy who Looked Like Lincoln” by David Catrow.
“The other day when we had the curiosity shop, his mom came in and said, ‘You have to tell me about this project because he will not stop bugging me about it,’” Chavis said.
Another third-grader, Ariel Lucas, completed her project on “A Bad Case of Stripes” by David Shannon. Painted in stripes and with a thermometer in her mouth, Ariel sat by her display as if she were the main character, Camilla Cream.
Ariel’s mom, Shonda Lucas, came to the school to see what the fuss was all about. Typically, Ariel is not highly motivated to read, her mom said, but doing this project reinvigorated her.
“Her excitement made me want to come see it in person,” Lucas said. “It seems like a pretty popular book, too. A lot of people have read it before.”
Lucas watched as a young boy stopped at Ariel’s project and chatted with her about the book.
The boy, first-grader Danziah May, asked Ariel to show him the pictures inside the book and even asked her what the thermometer is for.
“It’s a good book; I want her to read to me because I love this book,” Danziah said eagerly.
That interaction was exactly what the administrators were hoping to see, Faircloth said. “We hope that seeing the older kids’ projects will make the younger ones look forward to the third grade and make them want to read.”
At the Liberty County Pre-K Center, younger students celebrated the week by joining in class-wide efforts to decorate pumpkins and classroom doors.
Each class selected one book to read and created a replica of the main character using a pumpkin, Principal Shelby Bush said. The pumpkins were judged on multiple criteria and the winning classes were treated to popcorn parties.
Though some of the students are not yet reading on their own, Bush showed examples of how the school is teaching symbol recognition by labeling items in each classroom.
“These are pre-reading skills,” she said. “You first read by looking at symbols.
“It starts at home, we understand that, but this is where school begins. We’re getting them ready for kindergarten.”