Van Wert students participated in tea time during the Alice in Wonderland themed Teen Read Week. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Van Wert students participated in tea time during the Alice in Wonderland themed Teen Read Week. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – Due to some scheduling conflicts, Van Wert High School and Middle School couldn’t celebrate Teen Read Week during its traditional week in October, but they didn’t want to miss out on the fun and celebration of teen reading. Instead, the school is celebrating Teen Read Week this week with an Alice in Wonderland theme.

Each year students vote on a theme in which the Middle School/High School library will be decorated into. With the Alice in Wonderland theme, the library was decorated with a hedge maze, a tea table, mushrooms, and some of the Alice in Wonderland characters – Cheshire Cat and The Caterpillar.

Nellie Schmidt, district media specialist dressed as Alice, while library media aid assistant LeAnn German dressed as the Queen of Hearts.

Students were also able to play a game of flamingo croquet, play chess, watch Alice in Wonderland and find hidden playing cards to win prizes.

All the prizes were donated by local businesses including: Pizza Hut, Wendy’s, Dairy Queen, Subway, Taco Bell and McDonalds.

Students could participate in a tea party during their PAWS period, in which they enjoyed tea, tea sandwiches, and cookies.

Other doners for the event included Tecumseh Packaging, who donated decorations and Pleasant Ridge Apiary, who donated the honey for the tea party.

“Teen read week is a celebration of reading,” said Schmidt. “It celebrates libraries and reading for enjoyment.”

Schmidt noted that many volunteers helped to decorate the library, one of which was Mason Rogers, a senior, who spends his first period study hall in the library as a library aid. Rogers said that he loves reading and enjoys Stephen King novels the most.

“He has kind of a sinister turn to some of his books,” said Rogers. “I mainly look for that in books – sort of like a mystery, murderous type.”

Rogers noted that his favorite book is “Mr. Mercedes” by Stephen King, and believes that Teen Read Week is beneficial to libraries.

“Teen Reading Week gets more people into the library,” said Rogers. “It gives a due to what the librarians do throughout the entire year.”

Rogers said that through the duration of Teen Read Week, the library sees an increase in books being checked out. He also explained that reading is important for more than just increased comprehension skills.

“It’s an escape from reality for most people,” said Rogers. “That’s really what they come in here for, to get lost in the reading sometimes.”

Van Wert will continue Teen Read Week through the rest of the week with more tea parties, and more celebration of books and libraries. Schmidt feels that having a reading week specifically geared toward teens is important.

“Teen literature has really boomed over the years, and I think there is a lot more literature for teens,” said Schmidt. “I like the idea of getting teens involved. Sometimes they get really, really busy with other things as they become teenagers so it’s fun to draw attention to reading and libraries, even if it’s just for one week.”