What do NFL player Jonathan Stewart, Lacey Mayor Tom Nelson and Rhubarb, the mascot of the Tacoma Rainiers, have in common?
They’re among a long list of South Sound celebrities who are serving as guest readers throughout February for Horizons Elementary School’s Wild About Reading Month.
The event isn’t technically connected to the Lacey Loves to Read celebration that’s also taking place this month in the area. However, Wild About Reading Month shares the goal of spreading a love for reading, said principal Tim Fries.
“Our goal is to have every single student have fun reading,” he said.
On Friday, students and staff members at the Lacey school celebrated by dressing up as storybook characters.
One student won the opportunity to choose Fries’ costume: Gandalf from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
“We don’t dress up and do things for Halloween anymore, so this is a really fun thing for the kids to do,” Fries said.
Wild About Reading Month grew out of a fundraiser that the school’s Parent-Teacher-Student Association held last year. Instead of selling items that would have given them only a percentage of the money, they asked students to collect pledges for the number of minutes they read in February.
The school, which has about 600 students, managed to raise $7,000 with the read-athon, Fries said.
“The kids just went crazy for it,” said second-grade teacher Linda Karamatic.
For many of the students, all of that extra daily reading turned into a habit that continued until the end of the school year.
“They grew as readers, and it changed how they are as readers,” Fries said.
This year’s Wild About Reading Month has transformed into something that’s less about raising money and more about getting kids to read, or have someone read to them, he said.
Nelson said he was honored to be chosen as a guest reader.
In addition to sharing “The Very Silly Mayor” by Tom Tomorrow with younger students and “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service with older students, Nelson said he hoped he could help students understand the importance of reading.
“I love reading to kids because I think reading is a way of letting their mind imagine things,” he said. “It develops their minds.”
Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 firstname.lastname@example.org