January 30, 2008

Softball, Soccer Players Spark Kids' Interest in Books

Jan. 30, 2008

Indianapolis, Ind. - It might have looked like a huddle, but reading a story and having fun was the game plan, when outfielder Jenny Jacobs of Indianapolis gathered her "team" of youngsters around her during the Jan. 12 Readers' Day in Hinkle Fieldhouse. A senior member of Butler's softball team, Jacobs read the children's book Click, Clack Moo during a family literacy fair, staged before the Butler men's basketball game against Milwaukee.

"All of the kids seemed to be having a good time. They were really excited to see our mascot Blue II when he stopped by," said Jacobs.

Junior soccer player Crystal Wright of Carmel and her head coach Tari St. John also read books to visitors, along with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Suellen Reed.

Some 150-200 individuals walked through the reading fair, estimated event coordinator Angela

Lupton of the College of Education faculty. "The West Gym was filled with families and school groups as they listened to celebrity readers and participated in a host of literacy-based activities, including making signs for their favorite Butler athletes," Lupton said. A post-game autograph session with the men's basketball team also drew happy fans.

"Special thanks goes to our Readers' Day partners including the Butler Libraries, Scholastic Books, WFYI, St. Vincent Health and our event sponsor, Outback Steakhouse," Lupton said.

Several youngsters attending Readers' Day earned their game ticket by participating in Bookin' With the Bulldogs, an in-school literacy promotion initiated last fall by Outback, the College of Education and Butler Athletics Department. An estimated 4,000 students in more than 30 elementary schools are involved.

As an elementary education major pursuing student teaching, Jacobs introduced Bookin' With the Bulldogs to fifth and sixth grade students of the Indianapolis Public Schools' Center for Inquiry 84. So far, eight of her students have completed program requirements for rewards from Outback and Butler. "It's a great way to stir up kids' interest in reading," Jacobs said.

Story by Mary Ellen Stephenson, Butler University