Humphrey, the precocious hamster and hero in “The World According to Humphrey,” was introduced throughout the community on Friday during a huge district-wide kickoff at Great Bend USD 428. Holy Family School and Central Kansas Christian Academy are also participating.
Great Bend is the first location in Kansas to adopt the literacy program that encourages parents and children to read together and also pulls in community members to be a part of the fun.
Beginning this week businesses throughout town will display Humphrey posters and employees will wear special “Ask Me about Humphrey” buttons. City marquees will feature Humphrey as well as USD 428 Facebook and Channel 21 with a live Humphrey feed.
“The buttons are designed to start a dialogue between kids and the people in the stores,” said Tricia Reiser, Eisenhower School principal and chairman of the literacy committee. “We will tell our students that businesses that display posters and employees who wear the buttons are friends of Humphrey. It’s good for kids to learn that everyone supports their ability to read and that reading can be fun.”
Reiser said a synopsis of the book was given to businesses, but employees don’t have to really know about the book. Rather, they can just ask kids if they are reading the book and how they like it.
“This will help foster a feeling of community with everyone becoming excited about the same book at the same time,” she said.
Community partners are also getting involved in the program in a variety of different ways.
Humphrey will make an appearance at the Great Bend High school homecoming parade at 3 p.m. on Friday, Oct 2.
The Great Bend Public Library will host Nocturnal Night at 5-6:30 p.m. from Oct. 5-7. Kindergarten through second graders will attend on Oct. 5, third and fourth graders on Oct. 6 and fifth and sixth graders on Oct. 7. Fun games and prizes are planned by Dayna Ball, children’s librarian.
During the week of Oct. 11- 17 children will be encouraged to participate in Furry Friend Week by taking a donation to the Golden Belt Humane Society.
There are also nine restaurants partnering with USD 428 and offering discounts to children who will be given coupons. The restaurants will also have special Humphrey coloring sheets that can be displayed. Partners include Dairy Queen, Gambino’s, Great Bend Coffee, Long John Silver’s, Mr. Burger, Perkins, Perks, Applebee’s and Playa Azul.
Children will also be encouraged to attend Long’s Corn Maze from 4-6 p.m. Oct. 20-22 when special Humphrey activities will be featured.
Kids will have bookmarks that will be stamped at various business partners and events that will be turned in at the culmination of the program for special prize drawing.
Other organizations and businesses helping fund the One District, One Book include USD 428 Education Foundation, First Kansas Bank, American State Band, Farmers Bank, Community Bank of the Midwest, Papa Murphy’s Pizza and WalMart.