CALEDONIA – Liberty Elementary School students met some elves, frogs and a storytelling spider Tuesday at Literacy Night — all in the form of storybook characters.
Local authors and agencies filled the school, even after a snow day, for a night dedicated to encouraging families to read together.
Students also picked up free books donated by the United Way and the Let’s Read 20 initiative. Iron Man, Spiderman, Phineas and Ferb, Minnie Mouse and other well-known faces adorned the covers.
Mike Ring, director of the initiative, encouraged every parent to read for at least 20 minutes a day to their children.
He said 36.7 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds in the county are in preschool — under the state and national average. He said reading at home and getting kids into school are two ways parents can make them “lifelong learners.”
“Folks wait until their kids are in schools,” he said. “It can’t wait.”
This was just one of many events Ring and his team are attending this year in Marion County. He said Let’s Read 20 has already given away over 33,000 books at various events in 2015.
“It’s not just about books; it’s about creating community partnerships,” he said.
Lynn Bailey, a reading tutor and president of the PTO, said she always makes time to read to her kids.
“I will stop the world if they say, ‘Mom, can you read this to me?’” she said.
Bailey said some students she tutors think reading is boring. Part of Literacy Night, she said, was helping kids realize reading can be fun.
“You need to take the schoolwork aspect out of it,” she said.
Before Literacy Night, students worked on stories with an “Into the Woods” theme; author Shary Williamson chose the best story from each grade level.
The Waldo-based Bender & Bender team and author Janet Sedlacek of Cardington also shared ways to make storytelling fun.
Research shows students who read 20 minutes each day have a better vocabulary and score higher on national testing.