Getting a read on book fair

Teachers tell stories to children during fundraiser in the auditorium at Bret Harte Elementary.

March 01, 2008|By Chris Wiebe

In the foyer to the Bret Harte Elementary School auditorium Wednesday night, eight children sat wide-eyed as kindergarten teacher Sue Casella read aloud the book, “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More.”

The read-along was a first this year during the annual book fair and family night, which raises funds for school programs while holding activities to get students excited about reading.

“The teachers are so fabulous because they’re so eager to do it,” said Mageara Cameron- Spell, executive vice president of the school’s PTA. “And that’s a big draw — children love to come and listen to their teachers.”


Casella’s story told the tale of a child so excited about painting that he covers everything in sight. By the end, an illustration showed a kaleidoscopic mishmash of color gone out of control.

“That’s pretty,” said Milo Rothensee Siles, 6, as she looked at the finished product. “But that also looks bad.”

Inside the auditorium, parents and their children combed shelves of books that covered the stage. The students had already visited the displays during the school day, compiling a list of titles for their parents.

“It gives them the opportunity to be more independent about picking out things for themselves,” second-grade teacher Ann Ouellette said.

The book fair also gives parents a chance to see what’s out there and what their kids are reading in school, PTA President Tammy Sparks.

“I think it does bring families out to purchase books to actually read as a family,” she said. “Any time you can get kids around books, it can really get them more excited about reading.”

But there’s something in it as well for the teachers, who create “wish lists” for parents who purchase books and donate them for use in classrooms, Ouellette said.

Funds raised from the book fair in previous years have gone toward bolstering the amount of books in the school library, Cameron-Spell said.

“We earmark the money for our library to try to keep things as up to date as possible for the kids to try to keep them going to the library,” she said.

After donating all event proceeds to the library in 2007, this year’s funds will be put toward the PTA-sponsored activities, like bus costs for field trips and a carnival in April, Sparks said.

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