Everyone knows reading is important, but in an age of DVDs, computers and other electronic wonders, it's not always easy to convince young children to invest their time in books.
Who better to pass on the love of reading than peers and famous story characters themselves?
The Cat in the Hat, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Cinderella and a number of other storybook characters -- all played by students in Kerri Nelson's third-grade class -- showed up at Cook Inlet Academy recently to do just that.
The students in Nelson's class presented the play, "Sir Bookworm," to their younger peers to help encourage the love of reading.
The third-grade students hand out bookmarks to their younger peers following the play.
Photo by M. SCOTT MOON
"It's important (to do this play) so kids will think reading is fun, and they'll like to read a bunch," said Owen Phillips, who was dressed in a brown sweat suit and wrapped in string to play Sir Bookworm himself.
"Sir Bookworm" begins with a young boy who doesn't like to read. The character, played by Albert White, tells Sir Bookworm there are too many other fun things to do -- reading is a waste of time.
Then, the boy falls asleep, and Sir Bookworm enlists the help of storybook characters to change the boy's mind.
"I was happy out on the river, but this terrible news scared me out of my liver," exclaims Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn.
"I'd rather sweep ashes and sleep on the floor than live in a book no more!" agrees Cinderella.
"Everyone reads, even Babe, my blue ox," argues Paul Bunyan.
"This boy must have got a knock on the head to think that books aren't to be read," laments nursery-rhyme tumbler Jill.
By the time the sleeping boy wakes up from his dream-filled nap, he has regained the joy of reading -- and is anxious to ignore the TV in favor of some of his classic books.
"When he wakes up from his dream, he's starting to like to read again," explained a freckle-faced Tanner Fowler, who played Huck Finn.
The rhyming play is silly, said Jacob Boudreaus, who played The Cat in the Hat, but that's what makes it fun and effective.
"The play is really setting an example, especially for the kids in preschool, kindergarten and first grade, because they're just starting to read," agreed Kelsie Leaf, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Nelson explained that Cook Inlet Academy's philosophy focuses strongly on mentoring. The third-graders, who are the oldest students in the primary wing of the school, often visit younger students to read and encourage their progress.
The play, she said, is a way to go a step further.
"It's important to do the play because it sets an example for the little ones, so they don't think reading is boring," Jacob said. "It isn't!"
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