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Characters come alive in school book parade Event aims to encourage reading


The infamous Tom Sawyer and his buddy Huckleberry Finn made the trip up the Mississippi to be there.

And Dorothy blew in from Kansas, although she came without Toto.

Tom, Huck, Dorothy and about 450 characters from children's books paraded through and around Millersville Elementary School Friday as students dressed as their favorite storybook characters.

The book parade was the culminating event in a yearlong effort to encourage students to read more, said reading teacher Lois Bock.

"Our students already participate in the Pizza Hut 'Book It' program," Mrs. Bock said, in which readers are rewarded with free pizzas. "But we wanted to go even beyond that."

Millersville students have had guest readers, including Annapolis Mayor Alfred A. Hopkins, read to them.

And third-graders, who created their own books, acted as guest readers for the kindergarten and first-grade students, Mrs. Bock said.

One group of first-grade students really took to heart the school's reading philosophy. Carole Harding's 28 students have either read or had read to them almost 800 books since the beginning of the school year. To show how many books they have read, almost 800 paper cutouts of the Road Runner line their classroom walls, spilling out into the hallway and past two other classrooms.

Mrs. Bock said she does not plan to let the momentum die. The school is instituting a summer-reading program in which a list of books will be sent home. Students participating in the summer program will receive a book from Mrs. Bock when they return in the fall.

But Friday, students had little more on their minds than showing off some very creative costumes.

There were dozens upon dozens of children dressed up as the little French girl Madeline. Pupils also were spotted dressed as Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Babar, the Berenstain Bears, and Dopey of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs fame.

David Hosey, 8, who dressed as Tom Sawyer, and Richie Hanahoe, 7, who came as Huck Finn, said they chose to dress like the Mark Twain characters after reading "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn." Dressed in straw hats, suspenders and tattered jeans, the second-grade boys said it was the adventure in the book that made the story line so enjoyable.

"I liked the action between Huck and Jim," Richie said.

Added David, "I just liked the whole book."

Lindsay O'Dea, 9, said she went through her stack of books before deciding to dress up like Mary Poppins and have her friend Elisa Prelovsky accompany her as Jane, Mary Poppins' charge.

Dressed in a dark, very English-looking suit, granny boots, hat and an umbrella, Lindsay said she had another reason for choosing to dress like the character, other than her love of the book. "I thought it would be the easy thing to do," she said.

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