All you need is a book

Published 9:06 am Thursday, March 5, 2020

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Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) was the place to be Wednesday, Feb. 26, for more than 1,100 elementary school students from around the area.

Prince Edward County Elementary School Librarian Lesley Stimpert and her husband, H-SC President Dr. Larry Stimpert, hosted the students for the Dr. Seuss’ Birthday Bash event designed to promote reading.

This is the fourth year the college has hosted the Dr. Seuss event.

Lesley Stimpert said her inspiration for the event came from being a librarian. She wanted to get good books into childrens’ hands, letting them choose what they want and then letting them keep them.

H-SC Director of College Events Cameron Cary said this year’s edition of the Dr. Seuss day featured 1,186 children from eight different counties. Public school systems from Amelia, Appomattox, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Nottoway and Prince Edward counties participated, along with Fuqua School.

Stimpert said all of the students were second graders, except for Fuqua, which sent both second and third graders.

The event, held primarily at H-SC’s Kirby Fieldhouse, featured obstacle courses, massive bounce houses, H-SC staff dressed as Dr. Seuss characters and a book room where the children could select from one of 10 different titles of Dr. Seuss books to take home and keep.

“It’s a combination of the beginning readers, and then we have the longer chapter books, like ‘The Lorax’ and ‘The Sneeches’ and ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’” Stimpert said. “So it really is a mix of their reading level, which being at the school, there are varying levels of second-grade readers. Some are still entry level, and then some are at the fifth-grade reading level, so it’s neat that we have a variety of titles for the variety of readers.”

H-SC student-athletes were on hand in the book room to autograph and hand out the books.

“When you ask the kids what’s their favorite part, it’s the bounce houses, it’s getting a book, it’s whatever they just got done doing,” Stimpert said. “So it’s been fun, and watching them, they all come off the bus and come in (the fieldhouse) — their faces glow. They just light up when they see what they can do. It’s just a lot of fun.”

The Kirby Fieldhouse hosted an Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament first-round men’s basketball game Tuesday night, Feb. 25. The gym was transformed in time for the Dr. Seuss event the next morning.

“We did a massive overhaul in here,” Cary said. “Our volunteers are spectacular. We absolutely, positively could not do it without them, and there’s nothing I could say that shows the amount of gratitude I have for that.”

Cary said 125 volunteers helped make the event possible.