As part of the 17th annual National Education Association's “Read Across America” campaign, students at Northside Elementary School were treated to a magic show and learned about all that libraries have to offer. Monday.

This project was made possible by a grant provided by the Traverse des Sioux Library System and is funded in part with money from Minnesota's Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

“This is an excellent opportunity to talk to the children about having a library card and focus on the use of computers in the library for IXL Math, Study Island/Reading Eggs, etc.,” said Northside’s Roxanne Romsdahl. “Lots of people are helping to make this a fun event.”

Students viewed the magic show in the school cafeteria. During the show, Bob Halbrook, in character as Willy Wonka, enraptured the children, and he even managed to produce a dove out of his hat--for dove chocolate, naturally.

Different classes were also bused to the library throughout the day. At the library, groups of students rotated between stations with approximately 10 minutes at each area--the Charlie/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory meeting room, Seussville (in the children's picture book area to the right when entering the library) and Fairy Tale Land (to the right in the far back, Spanish book area).

Students were given autonomy at each station. The students could read books to themselves, or with partners, or an adult could read to small groups or an entire class, Romsdahl said.

Megan Karau, the library’s childrens services coordinator, said this is the library’s second year putting on such an event, but the school has been celebrating the birthday of Dr. Seuss at this time of year for several years. This is also the culmination of Northside’s “I Love to Read” month in February.

“The children really look forward to this day and having their experience here (at the library),” said Jill Bottem, one of the third grade teachers. “Building comprehension strategies is (important).”

Jill Taylor, another of the third grade teachers, said the students are “always excited to see people dressed up, see the magic show, and visit the library.” One such costumed individual was a gingerbread this year.

Taylor said it’s pivotal for the students to learn about the library and obtain their library cards. The main goal, of course, is to get students reading outside of class, especially during summer vacations.

“If you’re a good reader, you’ll be good at pretty much everything that follows,” she said. “That’s the basis for everything.”

For the complete story, pick up a copy of the March 6 print edition of the St. James Plaindealer--on sale now.