The Arizona Department of Education partnered the Christown Spectrum Mall in Phoenix for Camp Christown Reading Fun Fest, which spanned two consecutive Saturdays in September. More than two hundred wide-eyed children and their parents attended the events, interacting with characters, receiving free books, and enjoying treats.
ADE’s Community Outreach team was on site promoting Read 20 Arizona, the agency’s initiative to encourage early and ongoing literacy, and providing resource materials to interested attendees. As Superintendent Diane Douglas stated, “Our great state already has amazing literacy and vocabulary programs doing wonderful work for our children. Where those resources may not be readily available, we must shine as much light as possible on them and help families and parents access them for the benefit of our youngest students.”
The theme for the September 9 event was Alice in Wonderland, complete with a brightly adorned Mad Hatter strolling around with the Cheshire Cat wrapped around his neck. A stately, scowling, pursed-lipped Queen of Hearts stopped occasionally to pose for photos with the children, while a giant rabbit frequently watched the clock as it hurriedly painted funny creatures and flowers with eyes the children’s faces. In counterpoint to the fray was the sweet, unassuming girl in blue and white (Alice, of course), who gently spoke with the children as they waited patiently in line.
Not to be out done, the Cat in Hat brought his own particular brand of fun the next weekend. The cat himself posed for photos with Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas and the many children waiting to eat his infamous “Green Eggs and Ham!” All the characters escorted the long winding lines of children to their seats at tables set with colorful table cloths, ornate candle holders with balloons, patterned tea cups and saucers. Much to many children’s relief, they were served cookies, cupcakes and juice rather than green eggs (or ham).