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In few words, kids’ shirts show reading is fun-damental

More than 500 students at PS 115 in Glen Oaks paraded around the schoolyard Friday to show off the T-shirts they made for the school's annual Read Me Day.

Each grade worked with the school's art teacher to design, draw and print T-shirts with themes related to literacy.

Marjorie Fein, PS 115's principal, said the event had been held for the past nine years, but in the past students would bring in their own T-shirts based on any theme they wanted.

"Now it is 100 percent literacy-based," she said, "It's based on the books they're reading. And this is the culmination."

She modeled her own shirt - portraying Frodo from "Lord of the Rings" - amid the organized pandemonium of scores of camera-toting parents competing like paparazzi for the best angles as their children smiled, held out their T-shirts, or in some cases as children are wont to do hid their faces.

The school's art teacher, Florence Langert, said each grade had a unique theme for its T-shirts.

First-graders created shirts based on Dr. Seuss books, second-graders showed off their knowledge of "The Mysterious Tadpole" by Steven Kellogg, and fifth-graders focused on books related to Earth Day.

Third-grade classes selected various books including "Cam Jansen and the Chocolate Fudge Mystery" by David Adler and different titles by Patricia Polacco. Kindergartners and pre-K students participated as well, although most were not yet able to read. Their shirts highlighted letters of the alphabet, generally the letters in their names.

Fourth-graders took a different tack, portraying scenes from their social studies curriculum.

Reshma, a 9-year-old student, showed off her shirt depicting a colonial-era woman cooking a meal over an open fire. The back of the shirt read "If I lived in colonial times."

Fein said the project was valuable because students took an active role in choosing the books.

"The books are chosen in the classroom," she said. "In the upper grades, the children read on their own. It involves literacy, social studies and integrated curriculum."

Students and parents were enthusiastic about the event as well, praising it as both educational and fun.

But one fourth-grade student, whose mother begged that her name not be used, had a different take:

"I like it because we get to go outside."

Reach reporter Alex Ginsberg by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 157.

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