Milaca elementary staff pen preschool children’s book for new students

Milaca – In order to promote literacy and alleviate pre-preschool anxiety among local youngsters, several Milaca Elementary School staff members have co-authored a children’s picture book to be given to 3- and 4-year-olds before entering preschool.
Preschool teacher Becky Haukos, Reading Recovery teacher Donelle Welch, second-grade teacher Missy Tellinghuisen and Milaca Elementary School Principal Steve Voshell contributed to the book. They all also work on the committee coordinating the school’s STAR Reading program, of which the book is an extension.
“Tucker Goes to Preschool” is the final product of their work, a children’s book that follows a day in the life of Tucker the turtle as he navigates his way through Milaca’s preschool program.
The Tucker character has been around for a few years as a tool used in classrooms to teach young students about real-life situations. He is a local hero for students, much like Captain Olweus, who represents the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, Voshell said.
“He is a face that they see quite a bit of in preschool,” Haukos said.
The pictures in the book use photos of stuff dressed in a Tucker the turtle mascot costume, taken throughout Milaca’s preschool facility.
“We wanted them to see the real-life preschool,” Tellinghuisen said.
The initial idea for the book was Voshell’s. He was wondering how 3- and 4-year-olds enrolled in the district’s programming could get a jump on reading. Parents reading “Tucker Goes to Preschool” to their young kids can help familiarize them with books early on so that they are ready to learn to read themselves when the time comes.
“More and more we’re understanding the importance of children being read to,” Welch said.
Voshell said recent research supports that when students have worries, it hurts their ability to learn. In addition to helping future students get exposure to reading early on, “Tucker Goes to Preschool” also helps assuage any worries they might have as they enter preschool. The co-authors tailored the book’s content to address common concerns they have heard from students and parents.
The committee said they worked long and hard on the book, conceiving and writing its story themselves, taking the photos and putting it through multiple drafts before ordering a single draft copy printed, and then going back and making more final changes.
“It was written many many times, with many many revisions,” Welch said.
In addition to its story, “Tucker Goes to Preschool” includes some other helpful features for parents and children, including tips for preschoolers and tips for parents of preschoolers, and a memory page at the back of the book for children to reflect on their reading and preschool experiences.
Milaca Elementary’s STAR Reading Program sends a book home each night during the school with elementary students to read by or with a parent. During the summer months, elementary students enrolled in summer programs will still be getting a book sent home with them each week to read.