MOBILE, Ala. – An unusual group of visitors gathered Monday morning at Saraland Elementary School. There was Humpty Dumpty and Nancy Drew. Mrs. Frizzle arrived, along with Obi-Wan Kenobi. The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat and The Wild Robot showed up as well.
It was the University of Mobile School of Education’s ninth annual Book Talk, a service project of the UM Literacy Council designed to spread the joy of reading. Dressed as children’s book characters, the UM students, faculty and staff from across the university – including UM President Lonnie Burnett as Sherlock Holmes – were on hand to tell a bit of their stories and encourage young students to open a book and discover how the stories end.
Because it was Oct. 31 – Halloween – sitting in the gym bleachers were about 250 third graders dressed as princesses, witches, scarecrows, Harry Potter, Pikachu, the She-Hulk and more.
Karen Dennis, associate professor of education in the UM School of Education, organized the event that promotes reading while providing a learning experience for education majors who will soon graduate and begin teaching in the community.
“Our University of Mobile students get excited to see the audience light up and learn about books they may not have considered yet. Our pre-service teachers in the School of Education have the opportunity to experience first-hand the joy of teaching and see that teaching can be so much fun!” Dennis said.
UM student Ansleigh Weston, co-president of the UM Literacy council, said she loved being able to see all the hard work, planning and creative ideas come to life.
“As future teachers, we know the importance of making reading fun and interactive. Book Talks is our way of expressing that to students and teachers, and I believe today’s performance was successful in doing so,” Weston said.
The Saraland Elementary students are already great readers – Principal Stan Stokley said the school’s 250 third graders recently had the second highest reading scores out of 140 school districts in Alabama. Plus, the school’s fifth graders had the highest math and reading scores out of the 140 school districts.
“This is an exciting day for us. We’re all about reading, and everything we can do to get our students reading more,” said Stokley, in costume as Woody from Toy Story.
The children participated in the story-telling event, stomping their feet to call baby bunnies Cocoa and Snow home with author and UM adjunct instructor Meshelle Miller Baker dressed as mother bunny, and completing nursery rhymes with Mother Goose – retired School of Education professor Brenda Chastain.
A video of Book Talk is available for classes interested in inspiring their elementary school students to open a book and read. For information, contact Dennis in the UM School of Education at firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about the School of Education, visit umobile.edu/education.
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university with a vision of “Higher Education for a Higher Purpose,” founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions in an environment where they are known.
About the University of Mobile
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university offering on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.
For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit umobile.edu, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.