Towamensing Elementary School celebrated "Read Across America" with the theme "Bundle Up With a Jan Brett Book" with fun, exciting and educational activities that encouraged reading.

Jan Brett is a best-selling American author/illustrator of children's' books. Her books are known for colorful, detailed depictions of a wide variety of animals and human cultures ranging from Scandinavia to Africa. Her best-known titles include "The Hat," "The Mitten," "The Three Snow Bears" and "Gingerbread Baby."

The school's hallways were decorated with lots of gingerbread babies and other characters from her books, but the prominent theme was gingerbread houses and gingerbread people, with almost all the doors decorated in that theme. The doors were judged by Superintendent Carol Boyce and Deb Scheckler, her secretary on Wednesday.

Mrs. Stacey Olewine, Towamensing's reading specialist, outlined the week's activities.

"On Monday the entire school read from 2:30-2:50 p.m. On Tuesday, guest readers visited all the classrooms and read books to the students. On Tuesday and Wednesday, the students visited my room for special activities, all related to reading. Our fifth graders buddied up with our kindergarten and first grade students, our sixth graders read "Gingerbread Baby" to the younger students. We had a Gingerbread Baby hunt, students learned how to draw Jan Brett's hedgehog and we had a relay race. All to encourage reading,"

On Thursday, it was "Spirit Day" and staff and students could dress up as their favorite storybook characters. If they did, they were asked to make a donation and the money collected will be donated to the Palmerton Area Library.

Thanks to the school's PTO, the school was treated to an assembly featuring "Domino the Great," a magician with a message of "Read To Succeed" and how books are magical.

Domino (Nelson Oliveira) invited Caleb Eitner, Jocelyn Anthony, Deric Sterling and Caleb Strohl to help him perform some magic tricks. Caleb Strohl stole the show with his "dancing moves."

Domino then told a story about a boy who had never been to a library until one day he went with other boys and girls. One little girl showed him a treasure chest and told him it was filled with gold. Inside the chest were books like "Charlotte's Web," a "Tree House" book, "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid," and a Junie B. Jones book. But the boy wanted gold. The little girl told him, "Books are gold."

Domino the Magician told the students, "Your school library is filled with lots and lots of gold. Be sure to take advantage of the treasure it holds."

After the 10 a.m. assembly, Mrs. Olewine announced the winners of the decorated doors. This year's winners were Mrs. Serfass and Mrs. Morgan's sixth grade classes. They won a party, to be held in the near future.

Mrs. Olewine, the coordinator of the weeklong events, begins planning for the next year almost immediately after. She is very grateful to the school's PTO for their help. The PTO sponsored the Book Bingo, where every one of the school's 400 students received a book. She thanked PTO member Diane Huber for helping her with decorations.

Read Across America is observed nationally to motivate children to read, which is an important factor in student achievement and creating lifelong successful readers. Research has shown that children who are motivated and spend more time reading do better in school.