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Kids feed stomachs and brains at Books and Breakfast

May 11, 2012 - Martin Reed, Staff Writer

Donald Watt Jr. grasped the crayon with his hand and shaded in the pickle-shaped cartoon character in his coloring book.

Below the character was an ominous word: diphtheria.

The 6-year-old didn't know what the word meant, but that didn't stop him from enjoying the Books and Breakfast event Aopril 28 at St. Margaret's gym.

While diphtheria may have been above the heads of the hundreds of children in attendance with their family, the annual Riverton Kiwanis Club event promotes youth literacy with various activities and plenty of free books.

"I played," Donald said when asked about his favorite part of the morning.

Sitting at the table with Donald were the other grandchildren brought by his grandmother Joyce Duran, of Arapahoe.

Marial Watt, 3, Rainelle Jenkins, 10, Donald's twin sister, Kimberly Watt, 6, Rodrea Watt, 7, and Alaura Jenkins, 8, stayed busy with their coloring books too.

The morning included a free breakfast of pancakes, sausage, eggs, milk and juice prepared by the Kiwanis Golden K members.

While coloring a circus scene, Rainelle said she learned "that drugs are bad for you and buckle up whenever you go in a car."

Will she use a seat belt regularly? She nodded her head.

Their grandmother recognized the importance of the event and didn't have any trouble getting her grandchildren to attend.

"They were the ones that told me," Duran said. "They said we have to go."

As a first-time visitor, she noted the importance of the materials offered to adults and children. Informational booths for adults included Raising Readers in Wyoming, Evergreen Pediatrics, Child Development Services of Fremont County and Injury Prevention Resources.'

Duran knows to return next year "to get more books and more information -- and so I won't have to cook breakfast," she said with a smile.

This year, event organizers purchased enough food to feed more than 500 people.

"The event seems to have its following, and the schools have been very good in promoting the event," co-organizer Chris Jones said.

Karen and Drew Bott, both of Riverton, attended with their children Elsie, 3, and Kendra, 7 months. Elsie answered quickly about her favorite activity that morning: "Play with Daddy."

"I think the best part about it, I see tons of moms and tons of dads," said Drew Bott, who participates in Kiwanis. He was amazed by "just the fact that Mom and Dad and the kids are together" for the event.

J.D. Manzanares, a member of Riverton High School's group Key Club, volunteered as a narrator for children. While Manzanares read the "Foot Book" by Dr. Seuss, 6-year-old Malachi Mejia stared at each new page as he listened to the rhyming, singsong words.

At the create-a-book area where children could write their owns stories, Riverton friends Mackenzie Kellner and Talyn O'Neal, both 12, worked on their memoirs.

Mackenzie held up her cover: "Talyn and me."

Was "Mackenzie and me" the title of Talyn's book? "No, it's 'Mac and me,'" she said.

"It's all about what we do together," her friend said. "Talyn is cool."

The one thing that wasn't so cool for them was the appearance of Curious George, who roamed the room, giving out hugs and making some children laugh.

"We run away from people in costumes," Mackenzie said. "They're way scary."

While drawing a picture in her book, Talyn agreed.

"I'm afraid of them because I don't know who's in them," she said.

The picture she drew had an individual with "Curious George" written on the body while two nearby stick figures made the exclamation "ah."

Wait until they learn about diphtheria.

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