A traveling salesman of sorts stopped by this Central El Paso school on Monday, but the only sales pitch John Schumacher had involved the love of reading.
Schumacher, better known as Mr. Schu, is a traveling librarian and the Ambassador for School Libraries for Scholastic Book Fairs. He travels up to 200 days out of the year, visiting schools to encourage students, teachers and parents to read, read, read.
“Today I am going to be talking about how stories connect us and the importance of books,” he said. “When the students leave today I hope they remember the amazing time we had together celebrating stories. I hope they remember it’s important to read books that are filled with hope, light, love and laughter.”
“When I entered the school, my heart was imbued with so much love and so much excitement,
he said. “You can feel that this is a school where kids feel warm and safe and loved.”
Travis librarian Michelle Uranga made the visit possible thanks to social media contest at the American Library Association conference in Chicago last June, beating out thousands of librarians from across the nation for the visit.
“I’m so excited he is here,” she said. “The way he talks to the kids gets them excited about books, and that’s what we want. We want kids to read.”
Uranga struggled with dyslexia as a young student, so she knows how important it is for students to get support and encouragement.
“I was a struggling reader, so I didn’t like to read. That’s why I try to do my best here and help promote reading,” she said. “My hope is John inspires them even further and come to love reading even more.”
Schu shared some of his favorite stories and encouraged both students and teachers to read and act out “The Good for Nothing Button!” by Charise Mericle Harper.
First-grader Yanahi Ruiz loved the part about pressing the button, bringing both her hands together in loud clap each time.
“It was a lot of fun,” she said. “I think it’s important to read because I can get smarter.”
Kindergarten student Kurt Rhodes also liked the presentation, clutching his new Hawkeye book to his chest – a present from the school librarian to all the students.
“I learned reading is good so we can learn,” Kurt said. “I liked reading about those birds.”
Schu encourages families to make reading a part of their routine, even if it’s just for 15 minutes a day.
“Parents need to put reading on the schedule, just like sports or ballet or anything else,” Schu said. “They also need to read in front of their kids because when students see their parents reading they are more likely to pick up a book on their own and read as well.”
He hopes his visit will not only inspire students to read but to pursue what they love – something he feels he does on a daily basis.
“Reading is everything to me,” he said. “I want the students to pursue their passion and become an ambassadors for what they believe in.”