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De Anza pulls rabbit (dog and chicken, too) out of hat to entice children to read

January 11, 2001|By KELLY RAUSCH, Staff Writer

Students at De Anza Elementary School thought Bella, the cocker spaniel sitting on the classroom floor, was just a cute dog to pet and hug Wednesday. They didn't know her wiggling body and happy barks were actually ploys to get them to read more.

Along with a rabbit named Fuzz Lightyear, Angel the chicken and a white cockatoo called Casper, teachers at De Anza used animals Wednesday to spark students' interest in books.

As part of the Reading is Fundamental program, students at De Anza receive one free book three times a year. Since Wednesday's give-away featured several animal-themed books, organizers thought it best to bring animals into the classroom.

"The kids are really interested in the animals," said Kristin Cortes, a third-grade teacher at De Anza and one of the coordinators of Wednesday's book distribution.


"You can tell some kids really love animals. Those are the types of books they check out from the library and read over and over again," Cortes said.

Getting kids to read more and find enjoyment in it is a top priority for schools across the Imperial Valley.

Students combed through a wide selection of books with titles such as "Vampire Bats and Other Creatures of the Night" and "The World's Weirdest Bugs" searching for the perfect read.

Students look forward to the Reading is Fundamental book distributions, said Ruth Ford, a fourth-grade teacher.

"A lot of the students do not have libraries of their own. This gives them an opportunity to build their own library," Ford said.

"A lot of them don't get books on a regular basis," she added.

Reading is Fundamental is a federal grant program that uses matching school funds to provide school children with books. The program is active in several schools in the Imperial Valley.

Staff writer Kelly Rausch can be reached at 337-3442.

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