Mississippi students snuggle up to read on a cold and snowy family reading night

Kids put on their jammies, wrapped up in flannel blankets and snuggled up with family for a cozy evening of storytelling during Mississippi Elementary School’s family reading night Feb. 1.

Storyteller Mike Mann enlists the help of several students as he tells the story of “The Stubborn Turnip” during the Feb. 1 family reading night at Mississippi Elementary School. Pictured here (left to right) are The Stubborn Turnip (Duren Autridge), grandpa (Tristan Laforte), grandma (Maria Carlson), grandson Ivan (Menwoe Gbalea), puppy dog Spot (Cecelia Lian-Parsons), kitty cat Sasha (Lynette Mulubisha) and field mice (Sean Omurwa and Ufuoma Oyibo Itie). Photo by Sue Austreng

Storyteller Mike Mann enlists the help of several students as he tells the story of “The Stubborn Turnip” during the Feb. 1 family reading night at Mississippi Elementary School. Pictured here (left to right) are The Stubborn Turnip (Duren Autridge), grandpa (Tristan Laforte), grandma (Maria Carlson), grandson Ivan (Menwoe Gbalea), puppy dog Spot (Cecelia Lian-Parsons), kitty cat Sasha (Lynette Mulubisha) and field mice (Sean Omurwa and Ufuoma Oyibo Itie). Photo by Sue Austreng

Storyteller Mike Mann recruited eight students to help in the telling of the story “The Stubborn Turnip,” much to the delight of audience members.

“Stories are fundamental to how we learn and make our way in the world,” said Mann, who then encouraged the students to “exercise your imagination muscle.”

“Imagination is more important than knowledge,” Mann said, quoting Albert Einstein and announcing that each child in attendance for reading night could take home a picture book to read and share with their family.

Mississippi reading recovery teacher Carlyn Wilson urged parents to read with their youngsters.

“Read to your kids,” Wilson said. “It’s such an important part of learning and something they will keep with them for life.”

After Mann’s storytelling ended, families were invited to the school cafeteria where free hot chocolate and cookies were offered “to warm the winter night” as outside, icy winds blew and temperatures froze in sub-zero degrees.

“We didn’t know what to expect on this cold, snowy night, but our kids love to read and this is such a fun night. I think we’ve got close to 200 students here,” said Principal Mark Hansen as students selected picture books, then snuggled up to read with their families.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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