An active yet entranced group of kindergarteners listened attentively as author Tracey Sullivan read to them from her picture book, Tebow Tails, Caspar’s Conquest. This fun activity was part of Spring Hill Elementary School’s Celebrate Literacy Week. It was hard to tell if the children were more excited about hearing the story or getting to meet Tebow, a Flashy Fawn Boxer, the main character of her story.
Prior to the reading, Ms. Sullivan told the children about her dogs, Tebow and Caspar, and asked them questions about books and reading.
“A book has a beginning, a middle and an end,” she said.
“And a plot,” one child piped up.
“Who knows what the person who draws the pictures is called?” she asked.
“An illustrator!” answered a bright five-year-old.
The story is more than just a tale of an anthropomorphic group of dogs who spend a fun day at the beach jet-skiing. Sullivan, a former elementary school teacher and college math professor, wants her book to enlighten children and adults with positive life lessons on kindness and responding to bullying behavior. Her inspiration was her dog, Tebow.
“His charisma and expression-filled face struck me and I knew I just had to write a children’s book through the eyes of this dog. I believe this book will appeal to people of all ages because most of us can relate to the unconditional love of pets, imagining them with human traits and the delight of living in a beachside community.
Literacy Changes Our World is a statewide campaign to encourage reading. Spring Hill Elementary participated with weeklong events from January 23 – 27. Mystery Readers featured different people each day reading excerpts from books over the school’s intercom system. Students filled out a form guessing who the “mystery reader” was. The winners received prizes.
Students were encouraged to read with the Get Caught Reading promotion. When they were caught reading they filled out a form with their name on it which they deposited in a box. Winning readers got a reward.
Fourth and fifth graders read to kindergarten and first grade classes in the Buddy Readers event. There was also a Door Decorating Contest.
Other events included Tune Out TV (read a book instead of watching TV) and a Most Improved Reader Celebration. The culmination on Friday was Book and Blanket Day. Students brought a favorite book and a blanket to sit on while they read.
Celebrate Literacy was a huge success by the looks on the faces of the children as they listened to an entertaining story or sat on the floor of the media center reading books on every subject from Star Wars to history.
For more information on author Tracey Sullivan go to www.tebowtails.com. To contact Spring Hill Elementary School call 352-797-7030.