Preschoolers pack house for 1st ‘Reading with Leaders’

September 7, 2012 by

Anita Butler holds Fernando, the chinchilla she brought with her from Rolling Hills Wildlife as part of the first “Reading with Leaders” program Friday morning (Sept. 7).

Anita Butler had top billing as the first “reader” as a new storytelling program for preschoolers got under way Friday morning. But Fernando, the chinchilla she brought with her from Rolling Hills Wildlife Adventure in Salina, was the star of the inaugural “Reading with Leaders” story time.



Butler, who is the director of education for the animal park just west of Salina, read “Duck! Rabbit!” to about 30 children  — along with parents, grandparents and other care-givers — in the upstairs playroom at Neighbor to Neighbor. And then she introduced them to Fernando and let each child pet the small, soft rodent. Fernando then had a chance to roll around in a plexiglass ball, amid giggles and laughter as the children alternately chased and avoided him.

Anita Butler with Fernando

Then, after handiwipes all around, the children all had snacks and juice — and a chance to try out the toys that fill the playroom of the center in downtown Concordia. As their final treat, each child received a copy of “Duck! Rabbit” personalized with a picture of that child with Butler. The pictures were taken when the children arrived, and Sister Jean Befort and Cheryl Lyn Higgins personalized the books in the small office downstairs while the program was going on upstairs.

Friday morning’s session was the first of 12 planned in the “Reading with Leaders” series at Neighbor to Neighbor. The program is funded with a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation and is coordinated by Neighborhood Initiatives Inc., an office of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia.

Higgins and Lois Lervold, who make up the Neighborhood Initiatives staff, organized Friday’s event and have lined up all the readers in the series.

“Reading with Leaders” is free and open to all children ages 3, 4 and 5. All the storytimes will be at Neighbor to Neighbor, 103 E. Sixth St., Concordia. They are all scheduled on Fridays, and begin at 10 a.m.

There is a limit of 30 children per session so parents need to register in advance by calling Neighbor to Neighbor at 785/262-4215.

Here’s the schedule for the rest of the series:

  • Oct. 5 — “The Firefighter” with Firefighter Jimmy Menard and Sparky
  • Oct. 19 — “The Velveteen Rabbit” with Dr. Bonnie Cramer
  • Nov. 9 — “Harold and The Purple Crayon” with Cheryl Lyn Higgins
  • Nov. 30 — “Guess How Much I Love You” with Marilyn Johnston
  • Dec. 14 — “Santa’s Little Helper” with Richard Palmquist
  • Jan. 11, 2013 — “Dancing Feet” with Jason Martin
  • Feb. 15, 2013 — “Hot Rod Hamster” with Tony Miller
  • March 8, 2013 — “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day” with Sister Marcia Allen
  • March 22, 2013 — “The Giving Tree” with Dora Whitney
  • April 12, 2013 — “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” with Mike Lambert
  • May 3, 2013 —   “Green Eggs & Ham” with Police Officer Sara Heiser and McGruff the Crime Dog


3 Responses to “Preschoolers pack house for 1st ‘Reading with Leaders’”

  1. Loretta A. Jasper, csj on September 10th, 2012 6:57 pm

    A powerful way to model reading to a child; and to create a milieu for Moms and kiddos to listen and to interact in a supportive way.

  2. Helen Mick on September 7th, 2012 6:50 pm

    How precious! I think the adults enjoyed it every bit as much as the kids did. What a great program. Thanks to Chery. Lyn and Lois for getting it going. Those kids are so lucky to have this opportunity.

  3. Missy Ljungdahl on September 7th, 2012 5:08 pm

    WOW! This sounds like it was a great event for the kids. Thanks for all who helped with this project. Keep planting those seeds for a love a reading.

Feel free to leave a comment...