Story Festival a humorous affair at learning center in Glenwood Springs |

Story Festival a humorous affair at learning center in Glenwood Springs

Kelley Cox Post Independent

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” “Snickers” is kind of funny looking, as most guinea pigs are. So the classroom pet at the Valley View Early Learning Center made the ideal subject for children’s author Michael J. Rosen to extract a few laughs from his audience of curious preschoolers Friday morning.

“What’s something Snickers does every day that’s kind of funny?” Rosen asks.

“Sometimes he poops!” pipes up one not-so-shy youngster.

Nothing like a good poop joke, especially to a 4-year-old. Of course, just about every adult in the room chuckled too.

“She eats carrots all the time,” a young lady chimes in.

With that, Rosen begins sketching a whimsical picture of Snickers the guinea pig with a handful of carrots, and an apple or two.

“OK, now what would be about the funniest thing you might see Snickers eating?” Rosen asks, as he draws in an ice cream float.

“Pizza!” … “blueberry pancakes!” … “a sandwich!”

“What kind of sandwich?”

“A hoagie!”

Picture complete ” all part of today’s lesson in laughing.

“Humor creates an environment where kids are happier and more connected to one another,” said Rosen, a nationally acclaimed author who has written, edited and illustrated more than 30 books for young readers.

“When you create an environment that allows humor, it gives kids the authority and the ability to be divergent, and there’s better conflict resolution,” he said.

Rosen, who also appeared at the Holy Cross Preschool Friday, is the main presenter for today’s Raising A Reader 4th annual Story Festival at the Glenwood Springs Community Center. The day-long event, titled “From Ha Ha to Aha,” invites more than 100 early childhood teachers from Aspen to Parachute to learn about the power of humor in childhood development.

The Story Festival was started four years ago by valley residents Jayne Poss and Bertha Campbell to support and inspire preschool teachers who offer the Raising A Reader early childhood literacy program.

This year’s theme offers an opportunity for early childhood teachers to explore new literacy and humor building skills and concepts to take back to their classrooms.

“We all know that children learn better if it’s pleasurable, and that pleasurable events are much more memorable,” Campbell said. “We realize that things are funny for lots of reasons, and out of that funniness comes something that’s learned … that’s the ‘Aha’ part.”

That’s also why reading to children is so crucial, she said.

“Children see fun in things we as adults don’t see at all,” Campbell said. “Children are very literal, too, but they see fun in things that surprise us.”

Teachers can share so much more with children by using humor in the classroom, instead of stifling it, said Rosen, who points out that “humor is a sign of life, one of our vital signs ” like a heartbeat.”

“We want teachers to recognize that humor is not a distraction, and that it’s an integral, formative part of learning … and that they should themselves use humor,” he said.

Attendees at Saturday’s conference represent public school district preschools, Head Start, Even Start, child care centers, family child care homes and the teen parent program.

The Story Festival is funded by a collaboration of foundations, local governments, area businesses and individuals. The Raising A Reader Program now reaches 1,500 children, ages birth to 5 years old, in 90 preschool classrooms from Aspen to Parachute.

Contact John Stroud: 384-9160

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