About 500 Indian Trail Elementary School students, siblings and parents shared a night of reading, music and fun Oct. 26 as part of the school's 16th annual Family Literacy Night.

"All of them have centered around books and reading and just sharing reading as a family event," said Janie Kantner, media specialist and event coordinator.

The evening included different activities that centered around books in addition to a school book fair. This year, families could pre-order a pizza for $5 and have dinner at Literacy Night before the activities began at 5:30 p.m.

The theme this year was "Books Make Our Heart Sing."

Since the theme centered on books that are also songs, Kantner said author/illustrators Christopher and Jeanette Canyon were invited to perform at 5:45 and 6:45 p.m.

"We have a nice partnership with them," Kantner said. "They are very musical as well -- Christopher Canyon has a whole series of books that he has illustrated that use John Denver's songs. During his presentation to the kids about creativity and creating books, he actually sings."

First-grader Zach Taft has been a Literacy Night patron for several years because he has an older sister. He said his favorite part of the evening was attending the Canyon presentations.

"The first assembly, we did a welcome chant and the second assembly, we learned about their goals," Zach said.

In addition to the presentation, students participated in "literacy activity stations" run by their teachers and based on books.

"We want families to go home, one, enjoying company together and two, enjoying the night that is based on a book," Kantner said. "They can read a book and talk about a book."

Maria Taft, Zach's mother, said the family likes to do all the stations and fun activities.

"It's always just a fun thing for us to do as a family," she said. "His sister is in seventh grade, so we came the whole time she was in elementary school. I can't really get out of it any more because they both look forward to it so much."

Second-grader Ian Sadeski said he enjoyed the cars and the clay activities.

His mother, Alisha Sadeski, said her children always enjoy going to Literacy Night.

"They have been talking about it all week, and they wouldn't let me be late," she said. "They get to interact with their teachers in a different atmosphere or setting and they get to use some of the books here to create crafts out of them."

Kantner said it is critical for the school to provide activities that are fun and free so that "everybody feels part of the family at Indian Trail."

"We wanted something where there was no pressure and not a parent-teacher conference," Kantner said. "It's a lot of fun and enjoyment and sharing."

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