“Dream Big, Read” is the writing on the wall at St. Joseph Catholic School's library. The mural, which encompasses several classic characters from books was designed and painted by Julie Law (The Painted Lady), and is the new theme for faculty and staff to encourage students to read.
Fourth-grade teacher Aleesha Austin and Principal Debbie Timmermann met with Law over the summer. Austin said when Law walked into the library, she was captivated by the interesting wall structure and came up with the mural idea for book characters.
“She knew she wanted to paint several characters,” Austin said. “We brainstormed and decided that we preferred more classic characters, rather than contemporary ones. We also wanted something that would appeal to all ages, as our school ranges in grades from Pre-K through eighth grade.”
Fifth grader Freddy Bravo said he definitely finds the library more appealing now. He said the first time he walked in and saw the new renovations, he was speechless.
“When I saw this place for the first time, I couldn't say anything,” Bravo said. “I just kind of stood there staring.”
The attention grabber for Bravo were the feet of Black Beauty protruding from the pages of a book.
“Seeing the library like this makes me want to curl up with a book even more,” he said.
Bravo said his favorite types of books to read are about sports, especially baseball. Right now he is enjoying a book about the story of baseball.
“I love reading all sorts of books,” he said. “My favorite ones are about sports.”
Bravo's friend, Alayna Prasifka, a fourth grader said she was amazed by the changes in the library.
“I've been going to school here for a long time, and when I saw what they had done I was absolutely amazed,” Prasifka said. “It looks really awesome.”
Prasifka said her favorite part about the changes is the mural on the wall. Her favorite is the scene from the Wizard of Oz.
“I love the fact that you can really see the yellow brick road and all the characters,” she said.
Prasifka is an avid reader and enjoys laying on the floor of the library, while reading a good mystery. Right now she is reading one of the books from the Percy Jackson series.
“I'm really thankful for the changes they made to our library,” she said. “It's very inviting and I could hang out in here all the time.”
Austin said that's exactly the goal they had in mind, to create an environment that promotes a desire for reading.
“We felt by redesigning the library that it would ignite a passion for reading and learning,” she said. “We've tried to create cozy sections to help them engage in reading. The sections aren't huge, but I think they serve a great purpose.”
Pennie Walden is in her first year as the school's librarian and she is excited about the new look of the library.
“I'm thrilled about the new look,” Walden said. “The kids really love it and they come in with such excitement.”
Walden said in addition to the new look, she has really been able to utilize a smart board the school installed in the library last year.
“We've been able to discuss different topics such as what makes a book a good read,” she said. “We also access the Scholastic Weekly and students are able to interact (with the lesson). It's been a great addition to what we're trying to accomplish through our library.”
Walden is also planning on utilizing the Microsoft Surface tablets that are scheduled to arrive soon. She said students will have access to four tablets that will enable them to do online research, access the library's online catalog and other technological services.
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