Hamilton celebrates I Love to Read Month

Their noses buried in books, their imaginations ignited and their minds eager to write and illustrate their own stories, students at Hamilton Elementary School, Coon Rapids, celebrated February’s I Love to Read Month.

Hamilton Elementary School first-graders mimic the movements of a puppet manipulated by children’s book author/illustrator David LaRochelle. LaRochelle visited Hamilton for part of the school’s I Love to Read Month celebration.Photo by Sue Austreng

Hamilton Elementary School first-graders mimic the movements of a puppet manipulated by children’s book author/illustrator David LaRochelle. LaRochelle visited Hamilton for part of the school’s I Love to Read Month celebration.Photo by Sue Austreng

Literacy Kick-Off Night was staged at the school Jan. 31, and on Feb. 1 children got to have pastries with parents before the school bell rang.

Since then, all the children have been reading the children’s novel “Stuart Little,” then illustrating an assigned chapter of the E.B. White classic. Those scenes then become part of a giant mural in the hallway.

“This is a great way for the students to show the progression of chapters in the book. And it’s exciting for them to see their work on the mural and for us to hear them say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember when that happened. I remember when Stuart did that,’” said Dale Jean Nelson, a second-grade teacher at Hamilton and part of the school’s literacy committee.

Another highlight of Hamilton’s I Love to Read Month came with the Feb. 15 visit of children’s book author/illustrator David LaRochelle.

LaRochelle, former Morris Bye Elementary School teacher and author and/or illustrator of 30 books for young people, visited each grade level while at Hamilton.

Demonstrating to the students what it takes to write a story and draw pictures for it, LaRochelle spontaneously sketched a scene, incorporating students’ ideas into the story line and the characters in the story as he told the story.

“Students laugh and learn as he entertains with pictures and words,” Nelson said. “We’ve been excited for our students to meet and see a published author and (learn) the process that is gone through from the beginning of an idea for a book to the final printed copy.”

During children’s book author/illustrator David LaRochelle’s visit to Hamilton Elementary School, first-graders Charlie Jennrich and Aubrey LiaBraaten work the dragon puppet and the boy puppet – leading characters in LaRochelle’s picture book, “The Best Pet of All.”Photo by Sue Austreng

During children’s book author/illustrator David LaRochelle’s visit to Hamilton Elementary School, first-graders Charlie Jennrich and Aubrey LiaBraaten work the dragon puppet and the boy puppet – leading characters in LaRochelle’s picture book, “The Best Pet of All.”Photo by Sue Austreng

And students learned never to give up as LaRochelle told them that he received more than 190 rejection letters on a book idea he once had before it was finally published.

“If I let that make me give up, if I had quit writing, if I had quit sending my story to publishers, I never would have had 30 books published,” LaRochelle said.

LaRochelle’s visit to Hamilton opened students’ eyes to all kinds of possibilities.

“David encourages students to think, imagine and create. It’s been a memorable day for our students,” Nelson said.

For more about LaRochelle, visit www.davidlarochelle.net.

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

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