By JoANNE VIVIANO
VINDICATOR EDUCATION WRITER
CANFIELD -- Two-year-old Danny Dellick of Boardman smiled as he watched the crayon characters on the pages of the tall paper-and-felt storybook.
"Wow," he said, as Sara Hall showed him how he could push the characters on playground swings made of yarn and popsicle sticks.
Sara, of Struthers, is one of three high school students who wrote, crafted and read the book to preschool and day-care children at the Mahoning County Career and Technical Center.
Danny sat in Sara's lap Tuesday, listening carefully as Deseree Heard of Campbell told how the red, blue and yellow crayons shunned the green, orange and purple crayons, saying, "Go away. You're not like us so we don't like you."
Sara, Deseree and Amber Kozar of West Branch dressed as red, yellow and blue crayons to present the story to the youngsters. Sara wore a blue paper cone atop her head. Deseree wore red; Amber was yellow.
English class project
The three girls, all high school seniors, are part of the early-childhood education program at the Career and Technical Center. They built the book as part of an English class project to celebrate Ohio Right to Read Week. The statewide literacy celebration is sponsored by the Ohio Council of the International Reading Association.
"Literacy needs to be started at an early age," Sara said. "Kids like to be read to. They like the colors and stories, not knowing what's going to happen."
Danny heard the crayon story for the first time Tuesday. His smile faded when he heard how the green, orange and purple crayons were sad and cried when rejected by the other crayons.
His smile returned later in the story, when the red, yellow and blue crayons began to sweat and melt, saw how their intermixed colors were just like the orange, purple and green ones, and invited the other colors to play.
Theresa Billock, English teacher at the center, said the book project is one of many the school is using to promote literacy this week.
What's also being done
Besides focusing on reading and writing in class, school administrators are also rewarding pupils "caught" reading with tickets good for a free candy bar. In a Right to Read contest, pupils will win gift certificates for matching center administrators, teachers and staff with their favorite books or magazines.
The high school girls said they all remember being read to when they were younger. Sara said her mother read to her and her favorite kids' book is "The Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister. Deseree said her mother read to her, too, and she calls Dr. Seuss' "Green Eggs and Ham" her childhood favorite.
Now their tastes have changed. Among Amber's favorites is "Where the Heart Is" by Billie Letts. Deseree calls Daniel Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon" her favorite. Sara likes the Dave Pelzer books "A Child Called 'It'," "The Lost Boy" and "A Man Named Dave."
Billock said members of the school community "want everyone to understand that literacy is so important, whether you're a little, little baby, a toddler or a high school student."