Pumpkins get a makeover as schools explore literacy through art

In HISD, people aren’t the only ones donning costumes this Halloween. In an effort to get students excited about reading, pumpkins across the district have been painted, polished, and primped to depict dozens of children’s favorite literary figures.

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At Fonwood Early Childhood Center (10719 Seneca, 77096), students decorated “reading pumpkins” on Oct. 10 as part of a joint activity with their parents, and the gourds they chose represented everyone from Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Elmo to Clifford the Big Red Dog and Curious George.

“Parents were encouraged to paint them, dress them, and accessorize them,” said Librarian Alice Hahn. “The results were out of this world.” Parents also received tips on how to choose books for their children prior to the event.

At Cook Elementary School (7115 Lockwood, 77016), students not only had to decorate pumpkins, they also had to write about the characters they chose to represent and include details from the stories to back up their accessory selections. Pumpkins could be found there attired as Pete the Cat, the Lorax, and Lilly (complete with her Purple Plastic Purse).

“The students had a lot of fun with this project,” said Campus IT Service Representative José Ayala. “We read some great books.”

“There is a powerful connection between cooperative collaborative projects and literacy development,” added HISD Literacy Director Cindy Puryear. “Motivation, exploration, and discussion are key factors in strengthening reading ability in children.”