• 45°

Children read with Santa, others

Mayor George Evans stepped up to the wood podium and opened “The Something Wonderful,” a children’s book that tells the story of Jesus’ birth.

“Reading is so important to success in life,” Mayor Evans said to the crowd of children gathered Saturday morning for the Reading Is Fundamental program’s Breakfast with Santa at the Carl C. Morgan Jr. Convention Center.

Mayor George Evans stepped up to the wood podium and opened “The Something Wonderful,” a children’s book that tells the story of Jesus’ birth.

“Reading is so important to success in life,” Mayor Evans said to the crowd of children gathered Saturday morning for the Reading Is Fundamental program’s Breakfast with Santa at the Carl C. Morgan Jr. Convention Center.

The Zeta Eta Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority sponsors breakfast with Santa. Members of the sorority and community read Christmas stories, sing Christmas carols and eat a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon and warm, buttery grits.

R.I.F. coordinator Nancy Sewell said the event, which began in 1993, helps children develop a love of reading at a young age.

“Aww, it’s the key to unlock the other disciplines,” Sewell said of reading. “Some parents load the Christmas tree with toys and they fail to give a book or read a story.”

That is where R.I.F. steps in.

At the end of the event, each child who attends chooses a book to take home. Books from Curious George to Clifford the Big Red Dog line the white-clothed table at the front of the room. Children of all ages browse through the books, sit in Santa’s lap and shyly hug Clifford or Franklin the Turtle.

Sewell and Jean Martin formed the idea for Breakfast with Santa while they were both city council members. Now, Alpha Kappa Alpha sponsors the event, but Sewell said the city council and county commission still do their part.

Juandi Maxwell, incoming president of AKA’s Zeta Eta Omega chapter, said she was pleased with the turnout. Every round table and green, metal chair was full of children and parents. Maxwell said reading provides students with countless opportunities in life.

“Reading is the foundation of all learning,” she said. “No matter how poor you are, if you can read and imagine, you can go anywhere in the world.”

Current AKA president Rita Lett also said it is important to expose children to reading at an early age. Lett believes exposing children to reading at a young age can lead them to any career they desire. She has done her part through her 32 years of service in AKA.

“It’s a fun pastime,” she said.

Martin read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to the children. She said she has read the story more times than she can remember.

When she read the last line, the whole room joined in saying, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.”

“And to you to,” Martin added as she stepped away from the podium.

Mayor Evans encouraged the children to not only read as much as possible, but to listen. He said listening is just as important.

“You always must listen, so you can reflect.”