By Cody Thompson

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – Students of all ages gathered at the Crockett Junior High School gym for an evening of learning and entertainment at CISD’s “Camp Read-Alot” on Tuesday, April 25.

The event was proposed and organized by Crockett High School librarian Lori Dowell.

“This was something I’ve wanted to do for a few years now,” Dowell told the Messenger on Friday. “It’s also something I felt needed to be done for the students.”

Camp Read-Alot was started as a way to help students develop a love for reading at an early age and to help teach parents and legal guardians the importance of reading to their children, Crockett High School Librarian Lori Dowell said. 

“It’s just as important for parents, grandparents and legal guardians to read to their children as it is for them to read in school,” Dowell said. “Even if you just read them little short stories or comic books, every little bit helps.”

Reading to children at a young age helps them develop several cognitive skills that will help them in their academic pursuits, according to Dowell. 

“The more a child is read to, the better their language processing skills become,” Dowell said. “These skills translate to every other subject in school and can help make children better students.”

Students were given the opportunity to participate in a variety of activities, including storytelling and face painting.

“There was a great turnout this year and I really think the kids had a lot of fun with this event,” Dowell said.

Booths were set-up on the edge of the basketball court offering free books to students, according to Dowell.

Assisting Dowell were approximately 30 Crockett High School students. The students helped set up and tear down the venue, and some even dressed in costumes designed as literary characters for pictures with the younger students.

“This event wouldn’t have been possible if not for high schoolers who volunteered,” Dowell said. “They gave up their evening and put so much into this for the kids.”

Students also were treated to performances by hip-hop artist Don “Big Don” Robinson. Robinson is an Austin-based artist who writes hip-hop songs directed at young children. Most of his music features themes of positivity and morality. 

“We just really want to show kids that it’s cool to be respectful and that learning can be fun,” Robinson told the Messenger on Tuesday. “We’re really just trying to be a ray of positivity that cuts through all of the negative messages in most of today’s hip-hop music.”

Robinson also is known for turning nursery rhymes into hip-hop songs. His most recognizable are “Humpty Dumpty” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

Due to the large turnout at this year’s Camp Read-Alot, Crockett ISD looks forward to hosting more literature-based learning events in the future, Dowell said.

“We were really kind of nervous when planning this because we didn’t know what kind of a turnout we were going to have,” Dowell said. “We quickly learned attendance was not the problem and we’re now hoping for and even bigger turnout next year.”

Dowell offered a special thank you to everyone involved in Camp Read-Alot.

“I want to thank everyone that helped make this event possible, especially the high-school students who donated their time and energy and to the parents and guardians who came to support their children,” Dowell said.

Cody Thompson may be reached via e-mail at cthompson@messenger-news.com.