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AWC preschoolers parade as favorite book characters
Preschool children and parents jump-started Halloween at Arizona Western College as creatures great and small followed their leader from "Where the Wild Things Are."
The fifth annual children's Storybook Parade celebrated the "season of the witch" as AWC's Child Development Learning Lab (CDLL) hosted a courtyard parade with 44 children from infants to preschoolers dressed as their favorite story characters.
It was a great opportunity for AWC to introduce children to their "lifelong learning" concept and tour the campus, said Allison Keough, director of childhood learning development.
"We're always promoting literacy and this is also a great way to link it with traditions like Halloween."
The storybook parade is also a way to encourage parental involvement with their children's school, said Alma Barrandey, a CDLL development specialist who coordinates curriculum. Parents help their students select a book to read and identify a favorite character, she explained.
"The parade is a means for parents to actively engage in their child's education and remain a driving force along their academic path."
Darcy Carll, a Yuma parent, attended the parade with her son, Mack, 3. Mack said he likes all kinds of animals but especially the main character from the Disney movie, "The Lion King."
"I like to roar, but I'm not going to eat anybody."
Carll said by just browsing at the Goodwill for a costume idea, she spotted a lion's costume that was "so cool" and a perfect fit for her son, she noted.
"Mack can't read yet but he likes to follow along, and he likes to look through books on his own. He likes any books about trucks or animals. For now he's easy to please."
Ben Behunin, a CDLL preschool teacher, led his class in the parade and dressed as Max, the main character of "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak.
Max, who dressed as a wolf in the story, commits too much mischief so his mother banishes him to his room, where his imagination conjures up the wild things. But Behunin was on his best behavior for the storybook parade.
"We're reading the book in class and when I came as Max today, the kids recognized Max right away. We want the kids to relate reading to having fun and instill a lifetime habit of reading."
And although they may have lacked the force of a Jedi, Yuma parents John and Susan Rodrigue felt empowered to dress as "Star Wars" characters Darth Vader and Princess Leia while son, Tyler, 4, appeared as Luke Skywalker. It was after seeing the movie two months ago that his son decided he wanted to be Skywalker for Halloween, Rodrigue said.
Tyler is still young so he's mostly visual, but Rodrigue said his son often asks for a story to be read to him.
"We make it a point to read to him every night. He's starting to get it. He can read some basic words. But we like to keep his TV time to a minimum, pretty structured networks either PBS or Disney."
Rodrigue said the storybook parade was a good way to connect reading with fun and adventure. The program at the CDLL is "outstanding," he said.
William Roller can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858.