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Family Reading Night booked up again this year

Hampton Elementary students, families, faculty gather for reading event

6:08 PM EDT, March 22, 2013

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Who doesn't love cozying up with a book? Family Reading Night offered about 150 Hampton Elementary students, their families and faculty a chance to do just that Wednesday, March 20, complete with pajamas and blankets.

The event started three years ago as a way to develop a reading enhancement program as well as to bring children and parents together to promote reading, Tina Zeller, event organizer said.

"Hampton is a close-knit school community, and what better way to bring parents and kids and the school together than a reading program?" Zeller said.

During the hour and a half event, blankets are spread out across the gymasium and attendees, invited to dress in their pajamas, settle in with a good book or two.Guest celebrities read books aloud and tables are set up with books, collected 10 days and sorted by grade level before the event so students can "free shop" their favorite authors or subjects. The event was held this year was held at Ridgely Middle due to construction at Hampton Elementary.

"We collected 425 books this year," said Zeller, who said leftover books are taken to Ukazoo to be sold to benefit the school or donated to Baltimore Reads.

Leftover books have also been donated in past years to The Hope School in Burundi for the B'twa tribal students. This year, because Hope School asked for shelves for the donated books, Hampton Elementary held a "Hearts for Hope" fundraiser, selling cutout hearts for 25 cents each, to fund the shelves. About 500 were sold, said Zeller, who has two children who attend Hampton. Zeller said the school's connection to Hope School has also spawned a pen pal program.

One of the celebrity readers, Richard Sher, read "The Pigeon, Once a Puppy," to partcipants.

"He was very animated and had children do sound effects while he was reading. They were tweeting like birds," Zeller said.

Providence Vol. Fire Co. Firefighter Jeff Coburn read "Curious George and the Firefighters" to partcipants. Then he handed out fire hats to students.

Family Reading Night was deemed a success in its third year, said Zeller.

"It's heartwarming — bringing family together and sharing love of reading around the world."