Speaking for the trees

IUS Horizon

Sara Whitley, Kara Willliams and Michelle Muff read “The Lorax” to children attending “Who will speak for the trees?”
Sara Whitley, Kara Willliams and Michelle Muff read, “The Lorax,” to children attending “Who Speaks for the Trees?”

On Saturday, Oct. 18, children and their caregivers gathered on the second floor of the IUS Library to participate in a community outreach program titled, “Who Speaks for the Trees?”

Barbara Thompson-Book, associate professor of education, said this is an annual event with a different theme each year, that has been a part of her curriculum since April 2006.

This year she planned it to relate to the theme of the Common Experience, which is “Greening of Earth: Whose Responsibility?”

“We do this as a part of the class anyway, and usually the students pick the book. But this time I told them what the book was going to be and they came up with the activities,” Thompson-Book said.

The event consisted of elementary education undergraduate students from Thompson-Book’s  Children’s Literature class reading aloud to the children who attended. After the readings the groups participated in activities designed by the undergraduates.

Children of kindergarten age and above were read The Lorax, written by Dr. Seuss, while children of preschool age divided into smaller groups and were read Common Ground, the Water, Earth, and Air We Share, written by Molly Bang.

After the readings the children were guided through several different activities, one of which was painting a terra cotta flowerpot and then planting a seed to take home. Each child also got to take home one of the two books that were read at the event.

“Home Depot donated the pots, the soil and the seeds,” Thompson-Book said, “And Common Experience provided the books.”

Erin and Michael Treat, who brought their 5-year-old, Taylor, also attended a previous event.

“I like it a lot,” Erin Treat said, “there are a lot more kids than last time.”

Lilli Hodges, who is almost 8 years old, said she thought it was fun. She came with her caregiver and friend, Anna Sneed, elementary education freshman.

The undergraduate students worked closely with the children at each activity, and made sure no child missed out on the fun.

Thompson-Book said that in her class the students have to read about 200 children’s books each semester. They learn about authors, illustrators, poets and the importance of reading aloud to children.

“They practice reading aloud and this activity is an offshoot of that,” Thompson-Book said.
Three year old Natalie Beard came with her mother, Terri, who said they attend as many IU Southeast community outreach programs as possible because they are always well done.

Crystal Merrifield makes it a habit to attend these events, stating they are superb. She noted that she especially liked that the children were divided by age level.

“They [the events] have evolved over the years. There’s more to do, they are just excellent,” Merrifield said.

Staff Writer