By Nancy Bowman

Read Across America Week was celebrated earlier this month at Nevin Coppock Elementary School with local illustrator Liz Ball drawing students into the world of hidden pictures.

Ball, creator of the Hidden Picture Puzzles books, shared tips on developing a hidden picture using items associated with the students’ and their teachers’ interests to grab the young people’s attention.

Read Across America Week is celebrated each year on or near March 2, which is the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss.

The nationwide celebration of reading was created by the National Education Association in 1997 as a means to promote literacy and encourage a love of reading among young children, said Nancy Carus, a Nevin Coppock teacher. The Nevin Coppock Literacy Committee developed the local activity.

Ball was invited this year to demonstrate for kindergarten and first grade students the creative stages of developing illustrations.

The week’s theme, “We Can Be Reading Detectives,” was reflected in activities centered around the hidden pictures and mystery books.

“Students read with magnifying glasses, flashlights, solved clues of a mystery reader and dressed as their favorite book character. During Liz’s visit, students enjoyed having the opportunity to create their own hidden picture,” Carus said. “They were proud of their work and had fun finding the objects in the pictures Liz created.”

Ball said she first led students and teachers in an exercise where she made a personalized hidden picture for a teacher with students helping provide information on the teacher’s favorite things such as animals, hobbies and activities.

She then led students through a step by step how to make a hidden picture. “This is always fun, and their drawings are adorable!” Ball said.

She also allowed time for the students to ask her questions.

“Their enthusiasm, concentration on drawing and behavior made it a pleasure to be part of their day.  Besides helping with spatial skills, hidden pictures also improve eye coordination, memory retention and concentration–but kids (and adults) just look at them as fun,” she said.

The Read Across America Week project received funding through a grant sought from and awarded by the Tipp City Foundation.

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