OGDEN -- Reading is a big deal at Wasatch Elementary, such a big deal that students read 1.5 million minutes last year.
Principal Suzanne Bolar wants to keep that reading formula strong, so the school invites professionals to motivate the students. Local book illustrator Will Terry spent Thursday afternoon and evening with students and their families, showing them the tricks of the trade.
Since Bolar has been principal the school has sponsored a family literacy night and day. She has worked with the Parent Teacher Association to pay for local talent to come into the school. The PTA does two significant fundraisers each year and donates much of the proceeds from one of those fundraisers to the literacy event.
"We're on the same team, and we work together," Bolar said.
Two years ago, a story teller appeared, last year a local author came, and this year Bolar thought an illustrator would be fun for the kids. She was right.
Students spent part of the afternoon in a dark gymnasium, enthralled with what Terry was presenting on a screen. He showed them his work and pictures from his youth, then read one of the books he illustrated.
Students yelped in recognition when Terry showed illustrations from his books, and virtually every hand shot up when he asked the kids if they like to draw.
Terry encouraged them to get more education and learn some good illustrating tricks from their junior high and high school art teachers.
Silent Aparicio, 8, said he loved it when Terry read one of his books and then showed him how to draw a character similar to one of the alligators in the book.
"I really like to draw, and I like how words and pictures can go together," Silent said.
Bolar said she was quite sure an illustrator would spark the desire to read in all of her students.
"I wanted to expose them to how that process works and how things are created -- anything that can get them excited for reading," she said.
Terry took the students through his experience as an illustrator, explaining that he wasn't always a good reader and that it's OK to get help when needed.
There was laughter as he displayed some of his early drawings to show the students how far he had come.
Terry has illustrated 17 published books and teaches at Utah Valley University. He also designs advertising.
Students brought their families back for a literacy night, where Terry showed more of what he does and gave students some hands-on opportunities.
Kane Kathan, 8, said he loves to draw and feels more excited about art after Thursday.
He also looks forward to reading a book with pictures now that he has an idea of how those pictures were drawn.
Kane said: "Now I can look at the pictures and see that I can draw them too."