The first BCS Children’s Reading Fest started as a club project for A&M Consolidated High School students, but it turned into a full-blown event with more than 70 people attending.

The purpose of Saturday’s event, which was organized by the school’s FCCLA (Family, Career and Community Leaders of America) organization, was to get students interested in reading at a young age.

Co-organizer Jackson Bobbitt, a freshman at Consol, said they found in their research that reading at a younger age helps children’s brain processes grow. They want to make reading a “want-to” activity instead of a “have-to” requirement for school.

“In high school you read a lot, but if you didn’t read as a kid, you’re not going to want to read here,” he said.

Kurt Ramsey, an English teacher at Consol, brought his sons to the event and said he was happy to see the high school students putting in on, noting many of the children will one day go to Consol.

He was happy to have something on a Saturday morning to entertain the students that also provided value through reading and arts and crafts and gave them time to socialize with other children. His sons, he said, were also excited to go to the high school and be around the “big kids.”

“Every kid wants to be bigger and play with the big kids and do what the big kids do,” he said. “Stuff like this gets them excited for school. … As a high school teacher, that’s a hard thing to maintain.”

It is critical, Ramsey said, to get them interested in reading at an early age.

“It doesn’t matter what subject you’re passionate about, reading’s involved,” he said. “When you struggle to read, you struggle to access all that information. We’re constantly doing stuff here at the high school to get students more interested in reading.”

His favorite thing as an English teacher is when he hears students discussing books for class or for a book club workshop.

“That really starts here with stuff like this,” he said.

Consol students who volunteered to help with the event read a variety of books aloud to the students, who also had opportunities to do arts and crafts projects and make their own trail mix.

Zahir Latheef, a graduate of Consol, said his children, aged 8, 7 and 5, love books, so he brought them to his alma mater to take part in the activities that can supplement their homeschool lessons.

“Sometimes we’re trying to teach them a lesson or they’re talking about something when we realize we just got to get a book or a story on it, and it conveys the meaning and it stays with them and they keep that lesson with them. It’s so much more impactful,” he said.

At a time when screens have taken over people’s lives for both children and adults, he said, the event reinforces the joy of picking up a physical book and turning the pages.

Co-organizers Bobbitt and Keeley Loyd both said they plan to continue the BCS Children’s Reading Fest next year.

Though it was a lot of work developing the event from a concept, Loyd, a sophomore, said, she is thankful they took on the challenge, thanking the school administrators for allowing the event to take place on campus.

“It’s amazing how today has turned out and just watching how the children are so happy playing the activities and the volunteers are very active with reading,” she said.

Next year, Bobbitt said, they will develop new ideas and involve students from other College Station high schools.

“It turned out way better than I could ever imagine,” Loyd said.

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