Little Hocking students encouraged to read

LITTLE HOCKING – At Little Hocking Elementary Tuesday night, students gathered to read and laugh with delight. The goal was to show that reading is fun, and even more special when shared with a loved one.

More than 75 kindergarten through second-grade students gathered with their families at the school to read Dr. Seuss books and participate in activities related to the stories. The event was part of the school’s week-long observance of Read Across America Day, said kindergarten teacher Shelly Hess.

“It’s all about celebrating the importance of reading and the importance of getting the whole family involved,” she said.

Students and teachers were encouraged to wear pajamas to school Tuesday and again to the event, just as they would while reading a bedtime story, said Hess.

During the two-hour event, students had the opportunity to participate in three of 12 reading and activity sessions being offered.

In Hess’ room, students listened to Hess read “McElligot’s Pool,” a story about a little boy imaging all the things he could catch by fishing in a tiny puddle.

After the story, students got to “catch” a fish that was dangling from the ceiling and decorate it with family members.

The story brought back a vivid memory for kindergarten student Benjamin Casey.

“I caught a fish one time. My mom made me touch it,” he said.

When it comes to stories, Casey prefers dogs to fish.

His favorite book is the “The Puppy Who Went to School,” he said.

Benjamin’s mother, Jane Casey, could easily have guessed that, she said.

“We read that over and over and over,” said Jane.

Also creating a fish in Hess’ room, kindergartner Madeline Best likes Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” and books about princesses, she said.

But recently, Best learned there is a literary heroine named after her when she and her mom, Audrey Best, picked up the book “Madeline” from the library.

“We absolutely read every night. And if we don’t remember, she definitely reminds us,” said Audrey.

In a separate session in the gym, students rotated between a variety of physical activities revolving around Dr. Seuss books.

Kindergartner Mollie Smith went fishing with a magnet at the “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish” spot and got her picture taken with Thing One and Thing Two at the “The Foot Book” stop, but her favorite book is “Horton Hears a Who”, said Smith.

“I like the bird. He’s not very nice to Horton,” said Smith with an impish grin.

Twin brothers Adam and Austin Florence used the cups fashioned into stilts at the “King’s Stilts” corner to race each other around the cones.

The second-graders take turns reading out loud at home, said Adam, who likes stories about trucks.

Austin likes books about animals and tractors.

“We live on a farm,” he said.

And reading is not just reserved for bedtime for the Florences.

“We like to read on the bus,” exclaimed Adam.

First-grader Ben McLaughlin does not have as much in common when it comes to reading with 3-year-old brother Nicholas.

“We pick on each other sometimes,” admitted Ben.

But the two boys enjoy reading separately. Ben’s favorite book is “Where The Wild Things Are”, he said.

“It’s been around for like 50 years,” he explained of the book’s popularity.

But what really captures his attention are nonfiction books, he said.

“I usually read stuff about the weather,” said Ben, who recently read a book about the benefits of sunshine.

He is not the only one who enjoys nonfiction books. Second-grade student Rylee Burtnett’s favorite book “If I Ran The Dog Show” is about different types of dogs.

“I pretty much read with mom and dad. It kind of helps me fall asleep,” she said.

Burtnett’s mother, Ruby Danner, said she was thrilled to learn about the event, which the two attended for the first time this year.

“We read a lot. And we go shopping for books a lot,” said Danner.

Because Burtnett is an only child, the event is a great chance for her to share her enthusiasm for reading with other children, said Danner.

“She was really excited about this,” she said.

She was maybe a bit too excited, in fact.

“We actually came a week early. We showed up last Tuesday and nobody was here,” Danner laughed.

After students participated in all three sessions, they gathered in the cafeteria to share a cupcake and sing “Happy Birthday” to Dr. Seuss, who would celebrate his 109th birthday on Saturday, the official Read Across America Day, said Hess.