As Thanksgiving approached, students at Indian Trail Elementary School participated in the Great Turkey Reading Challenge Nov. 15-19 in celebration of Children's Book Week.

As Thanksgiving approached, students at Indian Trail Elementary School participated in the Great Turkey Reading Challenge Nov. 15-19 in celebration of Children's Book Week.

This year's theme was "Give Thanks for Great Books."

"We have always had a children's book week," media specialist Janie Kantner said. "It is always the week before Thanksgiving break."

Overall, the student body was challenged to read 5,000 books during the week. For chapter books, each chapter counted as a book read, Kantner said. If students met the challenge, principal Beverly Downing agreed to dress like a turkey and greet students at the door when school started Monday.

"Everybody was pretty excited about that," Kantner said.

The total number of books read was not available by ThisWeek's press time, but Kantner said students have always met the goal in past years.

"The kids have always met the challenge, always exceeded the challenges," she said. This was the not the first time Downing has agreed to participate in similar challenges. She also dressed like the Statue of Liberty while she worked from the roof of the school and kissed a cow when students met or exceeded their reading goals. For the Great Turkey Reading Challenge, teachers were asked to take a count each morning of all books read or listened to by their students the day before.

The book week is held to encourage young people to read, Kantner said. By participating in the book week students learn that reading can be an enjoyable event, they get excited and may learn to love reading, she said.

"I think it is important to make a big deal about books and authors," she said. "We do this in the fall and have a Right to Read (week) in the spring."

As part of the week's activities, students were also asked to vote for their favorite books in the sixth annual Indian Trail Book Award. This year's nominees were "Chicken Big," "Pierre the Penguin" and "Smooch Your Pooch."

During the week, students had an opportunity to listen to each of the books read aloud and then picked their favorite. Nominees must be a picture book that can be read during class.

"Kids get really excited about the book that they want to win," Kantner said.

As part of the week's observance, Canal Winchester High School cheerleaders collected new books for the Canal Winchester Human Services adopt-a-family program. They also read to Indian Trail Elementary School students several times during the week of Nov. 15-19.

"We are hoping to (collect) several hundred books this year," Kantner said.

Canal Winchester Human Services director Penny Miller said the books are used to help support families that don't get adopted during the adopt-a-family drive.

"This will be used for the children that I am not able to adopt out," she said. "I always have more people that need help than I have people who can give help."

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com