Childrens’ carnival

With people struggling to pay for everything from gas to groceries these days, it seems the word “free” has almost been stripped from our lexicon … almost.

In an effort to promote literacy in the community, the Ely Chapman Education Foundation is giving away free books. Yes, that’s right: free.

Ely Chapman, in conjunction with the Marietta College Department of Education and through the Christian Appalachian Project, is providing free books for adults and children and an inexpensive day of fun Saturday that the whole family can enjoy.

“It will be a fun day for children and there is still a lot that the adults can enjoy,” said Alice Chapman, Ely Chapman founder and chair. “The idea behind it is to promote literacy and we also hope to raise between $2,000 and $5,000 for the foundation through the country store, silent auction, bake sale and donations. We really depend on the community.”

The S.U.N.S.H.I.N.E. Learning Center at Ely Chapman specializes in serving students who need to improve study skills, need extra personal attention or additional academic help, including students who are both below and above their academic grade level.

Devon Lemon, 8, of Marietta said he attends Ely Chapman just about every day and takes a bus from Washington Elementary, where he is a student.

“I really like that I get help with homework,” he said

The Spring Fling book giveaway is the main fundraiser for the foundation and is usually larger than one held in the fall. This year’s book giveaway will be slightly different, Chapman explained, because, in addition to the free books for adults, there will be one room filled with children’s books and only children will be allowed to go in and take their pick.

“Parents can be downstairs (looking through adult books) or stand outside but I want the kids to be able to go in and pick out what they want,” she said.

Chapman added that there will be a limit to the number of books each child can take and they will be divided into grade levels up to sixth grade.

In addition to the free books, children ages 4 to 11 are invited to attend a literacy session provided by the Marietta College Department of Education.

Dr. Carole Hancock, associate professor of education and a foundation board member, explained that there will be a morning session and an afternoon session and they will be divided into ages 4 to 7 and 8 to 11. The sessions will include a craft project and book packets.

“To go along with the ‘luau’ theme of the carnival, the stories will focus on underwater animals and the ocean and sports,” said Hancock. “(At Marietta College) I teach a class on the foundation of reading instruction and in the fall the class usually does a literacy night at Washington School and then something with Ely Chapman. This year we decided to coordinate it around the book giveaway and carnival.”

Education and leadership students and fraternity and sorority members from the college will also be on hand during the event as part of a service project.

“By and large this is a project that (the students) enjoy very much because the feedback is immediate and they get the sense, ‘I’m doing something valuable today,'” said Hancock.

The event will begin at 10 a.m. and run through 2 p.m. The carnival portion will be held on the second and third floors and the book giveaway and reading events will be on the first floor.

Carnival games, including Plinko, bowling, fishing and duck pond, will require tickets, which can be purchased three for $1 at the top of the steps. The carnival is put together by children, families and staff of the S.U.N.S.H.I.N.E. learning station.

Silent auction and country store items have been donated by the community and many have themes which appeal to children, according to Chapman. Winners need not be present.

Board members will be on hand during the event to give tours of the facility and to answer any questions.

“This is just a wonderful community event that makes people aware of the Chapman center who have maybe never been there before,” said Hancock.

Marietta resident Grace Tenney, 10, said she has been attending the carnival for about four years. This year she looks forward to helping out and participating in the event.

“I like all of it but I really like the face painting and the sand art,” she said.