New Castle News

May 3, 2013

Children’s author engages Mohawk Head Start students in reading fun

Lugene Hudson
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — The bulletin board in the Head Start classroom at Mohawk Elementary School spelled out, “Welcome, Suzanne Bloom.”

The greeting was for the children’s author/illustrator from Binghamton, N.Y.

The upbeat, cheerful Bloom wrote the book, “The Bus For Us” and 14 other books geared at ages 3 to 6.

The writer spoke to students as part of the Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child program. Each year, libraries collaborate with Early Learning providers to include young children and families in the author visit.

Lorena Sears Williams, director of the F.D. Campbell Memorial Library in Bessemer, worked with the New Castle Public Library to facilitate the application and was accepted in Bloom’s tour. Williams needed a larger facility than the library , so she asked Mohawk Head Start teachers to host Bloom’s visit.

“Thus, we were able to have the space and a ready-made, age-appropriate audience,” said Williams, who works with the two classes of the Head Start program at Mohawk for outreach story times and book lending.

“So this is a continuation of what, in my estimation, has been a very mutually rewarding partnership,” she explained.

The group of about 30 students gathered around Bloom as she drew, talked and asked questions.

Reaching into a large green bag, Bloom took out more colored markers. As soon as she started doing a picture on her easel of a boy reading a book, every child was transfixed.

“I started drawing when I was about your age,” the left-handed Bloom told her audience as she proceeded — using two markers at a time, then three — to color in a dragon. “I love to make pictures.”

Then she asked, “What color should the shirt be?”

“Blue, blue, blue,” called out the group.

When the drawing was complete, Bloom opened a large, colorful, easy-too-see copy of “The Bus For Us” and started reading.

The story is about Tess’s first day of school and waiting for her first ride on a school bus with her older friend, Gus. Tess keeps asking him, “Is this the bus for us, Gus?” as various vehicles pass by.

Bloom instructed the students to answer Tess’s questions in different voices — quiet, squeaky, growling like a bear and hissing like a snake.

Included in many of the drawings in the book are Bloom’s own dog and cat.

A fire engine, ice cream truck, garbage truck and back hoe go by. Finally, there was the big yellow school bus.

“How many boys are in the picture?” Bloom asked.

Grayson Banks answered, “Five.”

Dakota Stringer counted five girls.

This is the eighth year of the program that highlights the importance of early literacy development in preschoolers. Collaborating agencies support early childhood literacy efforts and emphasize the importance of reading early and often to children, as well as engaging them in conversation and other activities centered on books.

As part of Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child program, Bloom traveled to 49 sites during April and the first three days of May.

“Then I’m going home to start writing another book,” she smiled, adding the tour has been tremendous fun because the kids get so involved in the story.