Nicole Jacobsen
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ESD Reading In Tents A student reads in her tent during "Favorite Book Week" at the Episcopal School of Dallas.

In celebration of Dr. Seuss’s 110th birthday, students all across America are participating in the National Education Association’s 17th annual “Read Across America” program. The Lower School at the Episcopal School of Dallas added their own twist to the program, and have dubbed the week of February 24 – 28 “Favorite Book Week,” a yearly ESD tradition.

Every day this week, Beginner students through fourth graders have been gathering in the library for “in-tent reading” activities around a campfire. After selecting their favorite book from the shelf, students pair up, huddle into their tents, click on their flashlights, and immerse themselves in the colorful pages of popular children’s stories. To complete the picture the Lower School librarians, Bonnie Tollefson and Linda Van Der Kar created a starry sky to decorate the library’s ceiling, and a CD of forest sounds plays for the students to listen to while they read to simulate camping in the woods.

“Our educational goal with this week is to build reading memories for the children that they will reflect upon years from now,” Tollefson said. “On Thursday, several eighth grade students were on campus and stopped by the library to tell me how excited they were to be back on the Lower School campus and how much they enjoyed reading in the tents. It is definitely an activity that students cherish long after they have left this campus.”

Each class celebrated Dr. Seuss’s legacy through a variety of arts and crafts and discussions. The younger students painted Cat in the Hat decorations to hang on the wall, while the older students wrote reports on their favorite books and took turns presenting their thoughts to their peers. Every class also made bulletin boards showcasing their favorite books and authors. The teachers joined in the fun and are wearing buttons all week with a photo of their favorite children’s book.

“The buttons open a dialogue between teachers, students, and parents about how the books in our library are tied to special memories we have about our own childhoods, and or teaching experiences,” Allison Hogan, ESD’s Primer teacher said.

Throughout the week, Lower School teachers submitted their favorite books and reading recommendations to share on ESD’s Pinterest page. Parents can visit the page to learn about new titles for their students, many of which can be downloaded from the library’s OverDrive catalogue of online books.

To share and to spread their love of reading, fourth grade students are also hosting a book drive for children at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. All of the books collected help support the Legacy Scholarship Program that provides scholarships for former patients of Texas Scottish Rite. If you wish to donate new or gently used children, youth, adult fiction, nonfiction, or even cookbooks to the drive, please drop the books off in the fourth grade hall by Monday, March 3.