From the Cat in the Hat to Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus, children in grades two through four from Ferebee Hope Elementary School in DC, were introduced to storybook characters and the joy of reading at the Library of Congress Book Festival on September 24. They danced with Hip Hop Harry, had photos taken with Arthur and other PBS Kids characters, boarded the Magic School Bus and met Ms. Frizzle, listened to author Tomie dePaola, and roamed the Pavilion of the States.
Dr. Shannon Melideo, chair of Marymount’s Department of Education, organized the annual field trip, and had lots of help from MU Education students, who volunteered as chaperones and even made the children’s lunches. For the past four years, Dr. Melideo has worked on literacy with the Ferebee Hope children through the Communities in Schools organization. She is now on the Communities in Schools Board and chairs the Programs Committee.
The annual trip to the book festival is an earned reward for the Ferebee Hope children selected to go. “After the first time, they always ask me, ‘When are you taking us back?’” Dr. Melideo explains. “They really look forward to it!”
Michelle Williams, librarian at Ferebee Hope, also shepherded the children through the wonders under the tents along the National Mall. She points out, “The children don’t have many opportunities like this. It’s really good exposure and motivates them to read.”
Madiha Siddiqui, a senior majoring in Multidisciplinary Studies with PK-6 teaching licensure, adds, “They especially enjoyed Hip Hop Harry and the PBS Kids characters – wanting to have their photos taken with all of them! The whole day has been a treat; even taking the Metro to get to the festival was fun for them.”
Ask fourth grader Jhonai Schools what she liked best at the festival, and she says, “Everything!”
Some kids were a bit overwhelmed at first. Val Sheridan Comer, a Master of Education candidate, spent time with second grader Dewayne Bailey. “He was very quiet initially,” she explains, “but really became engaged when I gave him my camera to use.”
Jhonai’s little brother, Rodney, a second-grade student, is already a lover of books. His favorite book: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss. “I like to read to myself,” he says seriously. Now he and his fellow students know about other authors and characters to explore. Each took home a Magic School Bus book, handouts from the Pavilion of States, and lots of great memories of meeting storybook characters come to life.
As for the future teachers, junior Meaghan Grealish sums up their Festival experience: “It was great to spend the day with a child of a grade I may end up teaching. It made me want to be become a teacher as soon as possible!”
PHOTO 1 – Ms. Frizzle (center) of Magic School Bus fame, chats with children from Ferebee Hope Elementary School (4th grader Jhonai Schools on left), as Dr. Shannon Melideo (behind Ms. Frizzle; second from right) and Marymount seniors Jenny Chang (left) and Madiha Siddiqui look on.
PHOTO 2 – Second grader Rodney Schools gets a hug from the Cat in the Hat, along with Marymount sophomore DeLaura Mosby.
PHOTO 3 – Second graders Denita Jefferson and Dallis Carr are engrossed in The Magic School Bus.
PHOTO 4 – Marymount junior Meagan Grealish bonds with fourth-grader Janae Dais.
PHOTO 5 – Marymount junior Marissa Quinn takes a quiet moment on the grass with fourth graders Katina Gales (left) and Janae Dais to review what they’ve seen.