“It’s a fun day for those kids, and parents, too, for encouraging them to read,” Alice Krall, who organized the program on St. John, said.
The number of participants was up from about 60 last year. Sekoia Rogers, who coordinates the Summer Reading Challenge as part of her job as a special assistant in Gov. John deJongh’s office, said St. Thomas had more than 400 youths participate. On St. Croix, the number stood at more than 100 students.
Sunday, the youths talked about their favorite books and why they enjoyed reading. Cassandra Ferguson, 10 and a student at Gifft Hill School, said she liked “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” best.
“It’s about a boy kind of having troubles at school,” she said.
Emily Murrill, a 10-year-old Gifft Hill student, was a fan of the Percy Jackson series.
“It always leaves you in suspense at the end of a chapter,” she said.
Sprauve School student Ronald Lee Jr., 11, said he found reading five books over the summer fun.
“Non-fiction, fiction, juvenile fiction,” he said, ticking off the types of books he read.
Yandell Martinez, a nine-year-old Julius E. Sprauve School student, liked a book called “Outer Space” best. He also said he likes reading.
“You can imagine stuff from the stories,” he said.
He said he was sure he was going to win one of the five tablet computers donated by local businesses given to those student readers whose names were drawn out of a hat.
Alas, he was hoping for an iPad, but Krall said most were Nooks.
While the importance of reading wasn’t the most important thing on the students’ minds, their parents and teachers saw the big picture.
“It broadens your world, teaches you new experiences and sparks your imagination,” said Molly Murrill, on hand with daughter Emily.
Ina Lee, who accompanied her grandson Ronald to the party, said that if you can’t read, you are going nowhere in life.
“If you can read, you can travel the world and improve your mind,” she said.
The party featured pizza, face painting, music, games, and more.
“It lets the kids see adults take reading seriously and it validates what the kids have already figured out. Reading is fun,” Guy Benjamin School Principal Brenda Dalmida said.
DeJongh, who attended similar events on St. Thomas and St. Croix, had an emergency Sunday and couldn't attend the St. John event.