Children’s Museum hosts special literacy night

By CHRISTIE BLECK
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE — It was the day before St. Patrick’s Day, but youngsters still got a taste of the Irish holiday while learning more about the written word Thursday at “Reading Rainbow” Reading Night at the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum.
Barb Rhyneer performed Irish fiddle music throughout the museum, and the special literacy night also included Erin Donovan, the 2015-16 Teacher of the Year for Marquette Area Public Schools, reading from her favorite books.
The museum kitchen had green apples, corn and water for kids to make special treats, but literacy was the focus of the evening.
“It’s just to encourage families to read together, parents to read to their children, and kids get to take home a free book,” said Brianna Cousins, an AmeriCorps member helping out at the event.
Another AmeriCorps member, Elizabeth Wentela, lent a hand Thursday, as did Jim Edwards, also known as “Mr. Jim,” who greeted families at the book table.
“Our mission is ‘Get Ready, Get Reading’ because it’s important to make sure children are at their benchmark for their grade level, reading, especially by third grade,” Wentela said. “Statistics show if children are at their grade level by third grade, they are more likely to graduate high school and to go on to college.”
To further that aim, she said AmeriCorps has teamed up with the UPCM for the literacy nights.
“It’s just family fun, and it promotes reading,” Wentela said.
Other scheduled Reading Rainbow activities involved members of Mu Beta Psi — a musical group of Northern Michigan University students — helping kids make tambourines in the building’s Critter Creek section.
Kids could have their hair braided and their faces painted in the Faces Salon, while Irish Bingo was to be played in the toddler area.
In the party room, youngsters could decorate green clover cards to send to veterans and paint a rainbow book bag with letters that they could use to take home their free book.
The event was sponsored by the Literacy Legacy Fund of Michigan, which donated the books, with help from the Marquette County Steelworkers Coalition.
Phyllis Aurich, an LLFM board member, said: “We’re trying to get everybody to be able to read — a literate Michigan.”
The Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, 123 W. Baraga Ave., is celebrating its 20 years with a Birthday Bash scheduled for 5 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. There will be party games, crafts, prizes and other attractions.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.