Read Across Oklahoma returns

"Wordy Birdy" will be the featured book for the 2021 Read Across Oklahoma.

OKLAHOMA CITY - Read Across Oklahoma, the state's literary event for preschool and early grade children, returns on Tuesday, April 13, at 9 a.m. with a free book giveaway and virtual activities.

The first 1,500 children who visit the Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden on that day will receive a free book.

Following their Zoo visit, participants can visit the Oklahoma Department of Libraries website, libraries.ok.gov/read, to enjoy a special video of author Tammi Sauer reading the event's featured book, "Wordy Birdy," performances by popular children's musical group Spaghetti Eddie, additional storytelling, and more. The video also provides a virtual look at the OKC Zoo and some of its animals and habitats.

Read Across Oklahoma is part of the statewide My First Library program coordinated by ODL, an early literacy initiative that helps develop literacy skills and promotes family reading. During a regular school year, the program distributes 1,900 books to early learning classrooms in the Oklahoma City metro area.

"Children who are exposed to books and have books to call their own at an early age develop better vocabularies and are better prepared for school," said Leslie Gelders, ODL literacy coordinator. "Getting books into the hands of young children is so important, so we were excited to partner with the Zoo to give more books away."

"Wordy Birdy," by award-winning Edmond author Sauer, is an ideal feature book for the event, Gelders said.

"Since the character Wordy Birdy is always talking, it's filled with new vocabulary words. It also imparts a lesson about the importance of listening," said Gelders.

The virtual side of the event will provide opportunities for children throughout the state to participate, Gelders said.

"The video is available directly from ODL's website, and we also have a variety of exercises including a maze, a coloring page, and learning activities and games related to 'Wordy Birdy,'" she said.

Visit libraries.ok.gov/read to find the virtual activities. Families planning a visit to the Zoo should make their reservations at www.okczoo.org/tickets. For more information about Read Across Oklahoma, contact leslie.gelders@libraries.ok.gov or call 405-522-3242.

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