George the frog, four baby turtles and twin crocodiles named Snappy and Toothy have shared in a big first birthday celebration with children across the Bundaberg Region this week.
These reading puppet mascots, hosted by the Bundaberg Regional Libraries, are part of the Bundaberg Paint the Town REaD family who hatched from their REaDing eggs one year ago in Bundaberg, Childers and Gin Gin.
Paint the Town REaD is a national program that aims to motivate communities across Australia to read with the children in their lives.
First birthday fun for all
Bundaberg Regional Library youth services librarian Jaala Beauchamp said celebrations had been in full swing during the week.
“Children read stories, made birthday cards, created cakes and cake pops out of playdough, talked, sang, played and had a lot of fun,” she said.
The mascots have an important role in the library and within the community, according to Jaala, who said the mascots were advocates of early language and literacy experiences, with many children benefiting from their presence.
“There is a lot of power in puppets when it comes to engaging with children, a puppet does not judge the child when that child is reading or speaking,” she said.
“The children know that our mascots are puppets however they also know they are special puppets that need everyone to read, sing, talk and rhyme with them to help them become stronger.”
One big family of mascots
Jaala said the seven baby mascots were part of a bigger Paint the Town REaD family
“Flip the turtle is the original Paint the Town REaD mascot, created by the Family and Baby Network in 2014, and it is from this mascot that the family has grown to what it is today.
Jaala said the puppets were a huge hit when they hatched one year ago and continue to bring smiles and learning opportunities to the children of the region.
“The kids love them. Especially patting, holding and reading to the puppets” she said.
“When they hatched it was a very special moment and at their birthdays it was wonderful to see the children still very interested in the lives of these puppets, eager to learn what have they been doing since they hatched.”
“Thanks to the wonderful community organisations who have partnered with us in this journey and at the hatching and birthday celebrations”.