by Janet I. Martineau
|Children at 2011 'D.E.A.R. at the Zoo"|
Animals and books team up for the 11th year on Wednesday, June 13, when the READ Association of Saginaw County invades the Children’s Zoo at Celebration Square for its always-popular “D.E.A.R. (Drop Everything and Read) at the Zoo” event.
Running from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., among the activities are selecting a new and free book for each youngster, 12 booths with animal and reading themed activities, a presentation and book signing by a Michigan author, and special guests reading books in the zoo amphitheater.
“Research confirms that children who read during the summer months are more likely to maintain and even improve their reading skills,” says Carol R. Lechel, the director of the READ Association of Saginaw County, “so we began this event 11 years ago to foster that.”
Sponsoring the activity booths spaced throughout the zoo grounds are Barnes and Noble Booksellers, the Child Abuse and Neglect Council of Saginaw County, the Castle Museum of Saginaw County, the Children's Book Company, Mid-Michigan Children’s Museum, Mid Michigan Waste Authority, Public Libraries of Saginaw, Covenant HealthCare, Saginaw County Birth to 5 Program, Saginaw Community Foundation Youth FORCE, St. Mary’s of Michigan and Target.
The featured author is award-winning Nancy E. Shaw, who penned “Sheep in a Jeep,” “Sheep on a Ship,” “Sheep Take a Hike” and four other sheep books as well as the 2008 Michigan READS! selection “Raccoon Tune.”
As a child, Shaw played word games during long car trips with her family and those trips helped develop her love for words and rhymes. The author was on a dull car trip in 1982 with her own daughter and son when she began tinkering with animal rhymes. The resulting silly stories turned into the first of the sheep series..
|Author Nancy E. Shaw|
At noon, Shaw will read from her books in the amphitheater, and the rest of the time (between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.) she will sell and autograph copies of her books. She lives in Ann Arbor,
The other readers at the amphitheater are:
-- 10:30 a.m., Judge Terry L. Claek of the 70th District Court reading “The Fox and the Hen” by Eric Battut.
-- 11:15 a.m., Anita Richardson of the MDOR Office of Communications, reading “Who Ate All the Cookie Dough?” by Karen Beaumont.
-- 1:15 p.m., Staff members from the Public Libraries of Saginaw reading “Big Chickens” by Leslie Helakowski.
-- 2:15 p.m., a surprise reader reading “Tanka Skunk!: Stamp Your Feet to the Skunka Tanka Beat!” by Steve Webb.
The zoo is located at 1730 S. Washington in Saginaw. Admission to “D.E.A.R.” is $7 for adults and children (with infants through 11 months free.). The day takes place rain or shine.
The READ Association of Saginaw County is a grassroots literacy organization whose mission is to help students improve their reading skills and discover the joy of reading. It currently has more than 500 volunteers who read one-on-one with more than 1,100 children during the school year at 42 locations throughout the county.
Sponsoring “D.E.A.R. at the Zoo” are thee Harvey Randall Wickes Foundation, Michigan CardioVascular Institute, the Saginaw Celebrates Summer program sponsored in part by Hemlock Semiconductor Group, and proceeds from the 2012 Bee for Literacy event cosponsored by Altrusa International of Saginaw and Rotary Club of Saginaw.