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By Denise Gary
Photographs © Bruce Matsunaga, Robert Gary, and Carl Wagner
There are times when you just have to stand back and marvel! Such was the case when the always hilarious and entertaining author/illustrator Steven Riley led creative sessions for children in the Kids Need to Read pavilion at Phoenix Comicon 2012.
The convention organizers generously donate a four-booth island to KNTR every year, providing us with a real opportunity to turn our space into a well-spring of children’s literacy. Thus was born the KNTR Build-a-Book program. Every session was filled to capacity and always attracted a large crowd.
Kids learned how to develop characters and plots, and had their book pages displayed on the KNTR Build-a-Book storyboard wall.
Because the kids were actively involved in the creation process, no two sessions were alike.
New characters were born, new stories evolved, but smiles and laughter were always a constant.
After signing a reading pledge, each participant received a backpack sponsored by Bookmans and filled with goodies, including a Highlights or Cricket magazine (donated by Highlights for Children and Carus Publishing, respectively), a “Take Me to Your Reader” button, and a copy of Steven’s book, Little Ty Cooney and the Grand Canyon Tour Company.
At the end of each program, the kids enjoyed having Steven sign and draw an illustration inside their books.
Really, the best way to illustrate the depth of joy this program generated is to simply share photos of the children as they laughed and created! I believe their faces say it all!
It was a joyous three days filled with stories, laughter, and wonder. There are many more fantastic photographs of the KNTR Build-a-Book sessions with Steven Riley in the KNTR Build-a-Book photo gallery. We thank the ever-kind Steven Riley, the ever-generous Phoenix Comicon, and all of the happy kids and parents who came to enjoy our program. We hope to do it again next year, so check out the Kids Need to Read booth at Phoenix Comicon next Memorial Day weekend!
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