Teachers bring characters from the pages of storybooks to the classroom

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 20, 2004

On Friday morning, students at Kilby Shores Elementary School hopped aboard the Polar Express and took a ride to the North Pole. With their conductor leading the way, the students met Santa Claus, hung out with his elves, and learned something about the true meaning of Christmas.

But not all of the children were actually kids, speaking from the perspective of age.

And the conductor wasn’t really a train driver, but a schoolteacher. It was a part of the school’s annual celebration of Children’s Book Week, in which faculty members dress as favorite storybook characters to help kids realize the importance of reading.

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&uot;It’s an awesome book,&uot; said teacher Sherri Lilley, clad in her pajamas and other child-costume attire. The Express, recently made into a computer-generated cartoon flick starring Tom Hanks, hit the literary world back in the mid-80s.

&uot;I read it to my class every year. In a society like the one in which we live, children need to believe in things like Santa, because so much of what children believe gets destroyed in our world.&uot;

The week kicked off with several books made into films, and students were eventually given bookmarks and stickers.

&uot;Children really enjoy (the event),&uot; said Lilley. &uot;It’s a wonderful way to promote reading.&uot;

Students like Brittany Hale were listening.

&uot;I think (the teachers) look pretty when they dress up,&uot; said the 8-year-old. &uot;It shows you that Santa is real, and that you should believe in him.&uot;

Daniel Gomer, 7, chimed in with agreement.

&uot;I’d love to ride on the Polar Express,&uot; he said.

&uot;I’d see Santa and ask him to bring me an electric guitar.&uot;

Down the hall, preschool teacher Jill McGrath put on a tall red-and-white striped hat, strapped Thing One and Thing Two to her body, and became a makeshift Cat in the Hat as she read the Dr. Suess classic to her kids.

&uot;It’s funny, because the Cat is so silly,&uot; said Jamal Holmes, 10. &uot;Reading is always fun here.&uot;