The wonder of reading and actual paper books, held by young hands embarking on their educational journey, was alive and well at Wallenpaupack's North Primary Book Fair and Family Fun Night, last Thursday.
"Reading Oasis: A Cool Place to Discover Hot Books" was the theme this year, the ninth annual book fair held at the school. The school took on an ancient Egyptian look.
Teachers and administrators wore elaborate costumes and makeup. Principal Anthony Cavallaro played the Pharaoh (they referred to him as "Mr. Cavapharaoh"). William Theobald, Assistant Principal at the Middle School, played a mummy. Walls were decorated with hieroglyphics. Palms and pillars accented the hall. Egyptian style music was heard in the gym, where families swarmed over displays of books.
The Book Fair runs through the week during school hours and on one special evening, the public may come. A host of activities take place, including reading (the mummy read "Bill and Pete go down the Nile" by Tomie dePaola to the children), a plastic duck pond game, arts and crafts, face painting and free refreshments.
Much creative energy goes into getting it ready.
The Principal said that the staff is 100 percent behind the fair, a much anticipated event. WANE PTA parents play a big part. PTA parents contributed the refreshments and make possible the various other activities at Family Fun Night besides the Book Fair.
Jean Kammer, the youth librarian at Hawley Public Library, donates books from the First Book grant program, for free distribution.
The Book Fair was started by their former principal, William Walker. Now retired, he volunteers during the Book Fair week as their accountant for the book sales.
Although books are sold, many free children's books are given away. Books serve as prizes for bingo and picking a plastic duck.
Denise Genello, Head Teacher, said this was a record year, both in attendance and proceeds. On Family Fun Night they made over $10,000 in book sales. For the whole week approximately $18,000 was raised.
Books are purchased from Scholastic. A percentage comes back to North Primary for the children, Genello said, estimated at around $3,000 to $4,000. Book Fair proceeds after expenses benefit the students through the purchase of classroom supplies, reading materials and playground equipment.
The children help a lot preparing the decorations, including making a life-size mummy statue that guarded the entrance to the gym.
Custodial staff are a big help moving the Book Fair from one of the classrooms into the gym for Thursday night.
Lake Region IGA graciously donated bags for families to carry home their books, when the school was running out.
While Ancient Egypt was thought to be a bit abstract for kindergarten level, each year Scholastic provides a different theme. Last year the theme was old time pirates, and the year before, outer space.
Page 2 of 2 - Principal Cavallaro was credited for his enthusiasm behind the event, which helps inspire the entire staff, Genello said.
Randi Clarke, one of their reading instructors, coordinated the event.
Christy Frey, another one of their reading teachers, said that the event promotes reading in different ways.. Children learn they can have fun reading a book. Cavallaro said that while computers are so popular today, children ages 5 and 6 are still being read to. The have a big variety of books, for different levels and interests at the Fair.
Genello said that the word is getting around about the Book Fair. North Primary children at the Fair's early years are now in higher grades and some have younger siblings now at North Primary. Families, excited about the Book Fair, are turning out in large numbers. Frey added that in a rural area it is hard to get many families together after school for an event, but they come in large numbers for the Book Fair.