EDMOND — OKLAHOMA CITY — Cowboys and cowgirls donned cowboy hats, bandanas and rubber sheriff’s stars Tuesday as they passed through the gates of the Oklahoma City Zoo.
More than 1,500 pre-schoolers descended on the zoo as participants in the Read Across Oklahoma 2009 Reading Round-Up. It is part of the Ready to Learn program, an initiative of the Oklahoma Department of Libraries and OETA.
The cowboys and cowgirls attended a live story telling production of “Cowboy Camp,” a humorous story written by Edmond author Tammi Sauer. In addition to “Cowboy Camp,” (Sterling, 2005) Sauer is the author of the picture book “Chicken Dance” (Sterling, 2009).
“Cowboy Camp” came to life with assistance from Capitol Hill High School’s drama students under the direction of drama teacher Terry Trail, Kelley Riha from Metropolitan Library System, and the author herself.
“Kelley adapted parts from the book for us to act out,” said junior Kaysha Floyd.
Riha pulled out all the stops with sound effects in addition to the students acting out parts. “Next year I am going to start earlier and write a bigger show,” Riha said.
The students worked on the props and the play for about a month, said junior Louis Juarez. “We had a lot of fun doing it.”
This is the 12th year for the program and the seventh year for the high school students to participate, said Edmond resident Kerri McLinn, Ready to Learn coordinator with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries.
Capital Hill High School science teacher and FCCLA sponsor D.J. Watts Booker works with the Oklahoma Department of Libraries to provide students to help each year with the program.
The pre-schoolers also were entertained by guitar playing cowboy, Jim Garling as he taught them to sing some cowboy “range songs” as well as taught them to yodel.
Each preschooler in the Ready to Learn program left the zoo with a complimentary copy of “Cowboy Camp” to take home and enjoy, courtesy of Target, Oklahoma Department of Libraries and the Krueger Charitable Foundation.
“Keep reading for the joy of reading,” said Lori Holliday deputy director for educational outreach with OETA. “You can visit any place in the world with a great book.”
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