Standing in the gymnasium of Sunset Elementary School, 5-year-old Caden Call prepared to get a new book at Thursday’s Family Literacy Carnival. But there were a lot of distractions between the gym and the library, including miniature golf, soccer and basketball.
And he wasn’t the only one planning to trade in his books.
More than 300 elementary school children attended the Literacy Carnival, hosted by the Sagebrush Reading Council.
Though she didn’t have an exact count on how many people filtered in and out during the night, council President Charlotte Mason said the 300 tickets organizers had prepared were gone within the event’s first hour.
Mason, also a third-grade teacher at Sunset, said the carnival usually attracts 250 to 300 children and this year was the first time organizers went through all the tickets for the community event.
Although the event was free, tickets entitled children to juice and suckers distributed in the school’s cafeteria, where volunteers from the Humane Society of Moffat County and the Boys & Girls Club of Craig provided entertainment with games, along with a karaoke machine set up on stage.
Amanda Snyder, a Moffat County High School senior, was one of the high school volunteers from the National Honor Society organization handing out juice.
“It’s so much fun to see the kids here,” she said.
Among the children she was serving were sisters Mikayla, Madison and Megan Quinn. Their mother, Mary, a Moffat County High School teacher, said she was excited to see the turnout for the carnival.
“It’s a good time, and it looks like it’s running smooth” she said. “I’m really glad they do it.”
Though her girls were enjoying activities in the cafeteria, Quinn said the favorite part of the carnival for her daughters was the book exchange.
The exchange, set up around the library, featured tables of new books provided by Scholastic, ranging from the picture book “Anansi the Spider” to the Louis Sachar chapter book “Sideways Stories from Wayside School.”
Children were allowed to bring in their own books from home to exchange for as many as two new ones, three if their parents filled out a survey.
Principals Zach Allen, of Sunset Elementary School, and Julie Baker, of Ridgeview and Maybell elementary schools, were among those supervising the exchange.
Baker said the old books are donated to doctor and dentist’s offices and charitable causes. She also said the new books the kids pick up in a year are often the ones they bring back for the next.
“It all comes back around,” she said. “The fifth-graders think they’re a little old to do the exchange, but the younger kids just flock to the tables.”
As one of the younger children, Ridgeview kindergartner Caden intended to trade in his “Spider-Man” book for one about hunting.
But he and the rest of his family were spending a lot of time enjoying activities in the gym, including carnival games like a bean bag toss with letters and “Fishing for Words,” as well as an appearance by the MCHS Bulldogs mascot.
“You get to do a lot of fun things,” Caden said.
Baker praised the effort put in by the Sagebrush Reading Council.
“All the volunteering is so worthwhile and heartwarming,” she said.