RIO GRANDE — In observation of National Right to Read week, the students and staff of Southwestern Elementary celebrated with visits from several special guests throughout the week.
Gallia County resident Bryna Butler has written and published the Midnight Guardians, a young adult book series that gives an eerily interesting twist to the legend of the tooth fairy. Butler joined students for discussion and then met with each class for writing workshops.
From abroad (across the Ohio/Michigan border), came graphic novelist Mark Crilley, a former teacher of English in Taiwan and Japan. He is the author of several series of stories including the Akiko comic and chapter books, Billy Clikk, the Miki Falls manga series and Brody’s Ghost. Crilley gave a rousing presentation during which he encouraged students to embrace the entire writing process, including conflict, problems, giving your characters a voice, make a connection, even revising over, and over and over again. He read a few pages from one of his books modeling how to give each character his own “voice” and personality, and gave tips on how to come up with ideas for stories.
Rachael Barker, the director of Bossard Library Youth Services, also joined each class with activities and stories. Students enjoyed visiting with Humphrey Hamster, a special friend who tagged along to entertain students. Humphrey was named after an adventurous class pet in room 26, who is the main character in his own nine volume book series.
In addition to special guests, Southwestern students had the benefit of many activities that motivated them to read. Grades K-3 had an animal theme entitled “Scurry Up and Read” which focused on books such as If You Give A Mouse A Cookie, Mouse Paint, Hooway for Wodney Wat, Stuart Little, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, and other stories showcasing those adorable little creatures.
The theme for Grades 4-6 was ‘Book Camp — Train Your Brain: READ’. Students had mystery readers, mystery characters and book passages, trivia questions and dress-up days which went along with their theme.
The newest activity added to this annual reading event was a “Read-In”. To kick off the week, the entire student body and many staff members came together in the gym after breakfast. Students got comfy with a small pillow and a good book, snuggled down, and read for 20 minutes. Students also had opportunities throughout the week to “Drop Everything And Read” for a short amount of time. Reading, writing and illustrating contests were included in the activities, and door prizes were given away at the end of each day.
This year’s major sponsors were Super Eight Motel in Gallipolis and the Southwestern P.T.O.