HARLINGEN — The alphabet thief had already stolen two vowels, so Claudia Villarreal was on the lookout.
However, while talking to local schoolchildren about her book The Alphabet Thief, the costumed character snuck out again to grab the E.
Villarreal was on the lookout now and she wasn’t giving up the letter easily. She and Laura Sheneman, coordinator of library services for the school district, were soon tossing the letter back and forth to the delight of the children as the alphabet thief tried to catch it. Alas, in the end, the alphabet thief got that one, too.
The presentation Monday was part of the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District’s Family Literacy Week. The event will feature a different presentation each day at 4:30 p.m. at the HCISD Administration Building. There will also be a book fair from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and then from 4 to 6 p.m.
Before the presentation, Laura Macmanus was at the book fair, which consisted of a room filled with all kinds of books. Macmanus, 12, had read most of them.
“I’ve read the Beautiful Creatures series,” she said. “I’m reading the third book now, and the Gallagher Girls series.”
She had spotted a book she hadn’t read yet: The Lucky One by Nicholas Sparks. She’s seen the movie and now she wanted to read the book.
Pat Keltner was at the book fair with her 15-month-old granddaughter Savannah.
“We are shopping for her,” Keltner said, cradling Savannah as she picked up a board book called Minnie’s Boy.
Caly Martinez and her daughter Valerie, 10, had just arrived.
“We usually go to the ones they have at the schools,” Caly Martinez said. “I guess we are familiar with all this.”
Valerie had already found a book she liked called, Coke or Pepsi? Forever! Amazingly Awesome Questions 2 Ask Your Friends.
At the presentation in the school board room, Villarreal quickly captured everyone’s attention as she talked about her book.
She incorporated moral values into her presentation, saying the alphabet thief was wrong for taking something that didn’t belong to him. She asked the children what they should do if they wanted something that belongs to someone else.
“Ask,” said one child.
“Ask what?” Villarreal said.
“Ask to borrow,” answered the child.
The story focused on vowels, and Villarreal started holding up different letters and asking the children if they were vowels or consonants. She held up a P and asked, “What sound does it make?” and everyone made the sound “puh.”
She held up an O.
“Vowel or consonant?” she asked.
“Vowel,” everyone answered, and soon the alphabet thief came out and nabbed it.
Sheneman said literacy week is important because it provides a stimulus to get family members involved in their children’s learning.
“Research would show you that being poor, uneducated and a limited English speaker can have negative implications,” Sheneman said. “However, we as a community can step up and make those non-issues for our students and families.”
She said developing literacy is essential for society to continue to function at a high level.
“Harlingen CISD has supported these types of events for many years at the campus level,” she said. “These last two years we have found ways to reach out to our families in the summer.”