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Books Come Alive in Elementary School Parade

Nov 16, 2006 — Ricardo Richards Elementary School students took part in an annual parade Friday, dressing up as characters from their favorite books for the culmination of American Education Week (AEW).
The entire student body participated in the parade, which began at 1 p.m. The annual recognition of AEW coincides with National Children's Book week, according to AEW committee chair Joan Murray. This year's AEW theme is "Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility," while the theme of National Children's Book week is "More Books, Please!"
"This is an annual event," Murray said. The parade matched the theme of "More Books, Please!," giving students and teachers a wide range of books they could use.
Every year students take pride in reading their assigned books and becoming their characters. Teachers in each grade level decide if they will participate in the parade as individual classes or as an entire grade level, Murray said. This year the third graders joined together under a Cat in the Hat theme, while the fourth graders entered the parade together showcasing different characters from their book, The Singing Man.
Denisia Ferdinand and Angelique Flemming were excited to participate in the parade. Marching in the parade and reading the book helped enhance their love for reading, they said. Ferdinand, clad in Kente cloth, carried a large placard that read, "A people without a past have no future." Details of the book flew from the eager lips of the children as teachers and parents asked what they learned.
"The students choose the books, and they become very excited about the event," Murray said. "We are trying to push literacy and show children books can be fun, not just words on a page."
The reigning "Ms. Ricardo Richards," Elanie Jon-Baptiste, said participating in the parade made her "want to read more." Jon-Baptiste said she wants to be a pediatrician or teacher when she grows up, and said all her teachers made her want to be responsible for teaching others.
Sixth-grade students Alisandra Alamo and K'shawn Wilson said their book, The Taxi that Hurried, taught them about themselves and gave them an increased love for reading. The book taught him that he could "express [himself] in many ways," Wilson said. Alamo said the book was funny, adding that reading the book and participating in the parade helped her already stellar reading skills.
When he grows up, Wilson, 11, wants to be a paramedic: "I like saving people and giving them another chance at life."
Parents are always involved in the event, coming to the school to help dress and put final touches on costumes, according to AEW committee member Valerie Schrader. Assistance from parents is a welcome asset, she said.
"[Students] look forward to [the parade] every year, and some students even come up with ideas over the summer," said music instructor Frederick Williams.
The event is a good learning tool for all students because every student is different, he said. "Learning is different for every child. Some learn through books, some through television and some through character acting."
Events like the parade encourage all children to continue studying and reading, Williams said.
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