For Halloween, students at Sheridan Elementary hold a literacy parade

Students and their teachers dress up as characters from their favorite books. It is the beginning of an annual tradition, teachers say.

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

Philip H. Sheridan Elementary School in Kensington held its first ever “literacy parade” on Wednesday. Students in every class, from kindergarten to 4th grade, chose their favorite books and dressed up accordingly. Classics like The Rainbow Fish, 101 Dalmatians, and The Magic School Bus made appearances, as well as more recent books, such as Pete the Cat and Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late!

Lisa Sandner, who has worked at Sheridan for four years as literacy lead teacher, organized the parade.

“We know our students don’t celebrate Halloween very often, but we wanted them to be excited to come to school and really celebrate their love of books,” Sandner said.

Sandner, who was dressed as Curious George, the monkey from the eponymous children’s book series, also served as emcee for the event, announcing each class and their chosen book as they took their place in the parade. Roughly 675 students participated — the whole school —as well as teachers and parents.

Parents crowded around the schoolyard and leaned over the gates to watch their children parade in colorful costumes and wave signs.

“Our parent turnout was amazing,” said Sandner. “I don’t think we normally have that many parents come to events, so it was really cool to see the parents show up for their kids.”

After every group had paraded in the schoolyard, teachers and other staff who dressed up made one round while their students clapped and cheered. The school mascot, the Sheridan Tiger, also bounded around the yard and elicited especially excited cheers from the younger students.

John Rossos, Sheridan’s reading specialist, said the literacy parade would be an annual event.

“We’re just trying to celebrate literacy, get kids excited about reading books,” said Rossos, who was dressed as The Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George.

Sheridan is also holding a book fair in conjunction with the literacy parade until early November. All book sale profits will go toward buying new books for classrooms.