‘Put Your Nose in a Book’
By Anthony D. Alonzo Post-Tribune correspondent October 18, 2012 2:36PM
Wearing a red clown nose, Merrillville (Ind.) High School freshman Hunter Kaiser discusses a book with second-graders at Salk Elementary School on Oct. 5, 2012, as part of the “Put Your Nose in a Book” event. | Anthony D. Alonzo~For Sun-Ttimes Media
Updated: December 18, 2012 2:08AM
As a Merrillville High School freshman turned the pages of a book, attentive second-graders focused on creative questions about the story, and even ideas for charity.
Twenty-four MHS volunteers recently visited Salk Elementary School as part of the annual “Put Your Nose in a Book” event. They helped children discover story themes and morals.
Hunter Kaiser, 14, read to Hara Halkias’ second-graders, supporting the “Drop Everything and Read” class initiative. Kaiser, wearing a red clown nose like her MHS colleagues, read “Those Shoes” by Maribeth Boelts.
Kaiser said she loves reading and was glad to spend time with the Salk children.
“I like to read drama books,” she said. “(The students here) seemed really excited. I’d tell them they should try to find a book that interests them because reading is really important.”
“Those Shoes,” sparse in words but rich in colorful illustrations, highlights a boy’s desire to have a pair of shoes that are a trendy topic at his school.
“’I have dreams about those shoes — black high-tops, two white stripes,’” Kaiser read.
Eyebrows raised when the boy had a change of heart and decided to give his coveted shoes to a friend who always wore tattered sneakers. Some of the second-graders said they, too, could donate shoes.
Jaylen Thomas, 8, was eager to ask questions afterward, during a critical-thinking exercise. He said reading was vital to academic success.
“If you want to be a professional football player, you have to get good grades first (in college),” said Jaylen, who wore his Pop Warner team jersey. “I actually read (‘Those Shoes’) before.”
The scene played out in classrooms throughout the school, where readers and their audience members took a break from the standard morning curriculum to share ideas gleaned from books.
Not an iPad, Kindle or Nook was in sight.
The teens are part of the MHS-based group STAND — Socially Together and Naturally Diverse. Salk librarian Tiffany Underwood said “Put Your Nose in a Book” dates back several years.
Halkias wasn’t surprised when her curious students followed up a story with insightful questions.
“We have a saying at Salk that ‘Reading is Thinking,’ ” said Halkias, who praised her students’ generosity shown in a recent coat drive for the needy. “When reading a story, you should be thinking of the message and asking those questions and making sure you’re understanding what you’re reading.
“The kids have learned to do that, and it shows when we have a discussion.”