By Wendy Gragg

Killeen Daily Herald

Small, paint-splotched hands delicately dipped the paint brushes in water before smushing them firmly into the paint.

With wet brushstrokes, the blues and greens of a pond appeared on the pages. Floating circles became lilly pads that might have even made a young Claude Monet proud.

The mini-masterpieces produced Wednesday by children at Fowler Elementary School were just a small part of a library program that entails way more than reading.

Librarian Bess Wilson and library aide Elizabeth Blank have taken on a summer reading program at the school that is based on books, but goes far beyond the binding.

They are currently in the third week of a four-week study of famous artists.

Next year there will be art in the curriculum, so I thought Id get a head start on it, Wilson said.

Wilson said she expanded on the typical reading program in order to hook more children into participating.

They think theyre playing, she said. But theyre really learning.

Wilson uses books to introduce artists like Picasso, Van Gogh and Magritte to the children. Then the lesson comes off the page in the form of painting and crafts. Besides their artwork, which adorns the hall outside the library, the students have made bead bracelets and they play regular games of Chinese checkers. The fifth-graders are tackling a play, complete with handmade props.

Wilsons academic ruse seems to have worked, judging by the turnout, which can reach as many as 35 children any given day. Blank said that in her 15 years at the school, she has never seen the summer program be so popular.

The children, in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, come to the library from 9 a.m. to noon, Tuesday through Thursday. The school district is even providing free lunch and breakfast for the children. Two high school volunteers are helping provide extra hands for the program.

Fifth-grader Leyhannie Leban said she especially likes Claude Monet so far.

If you just stand there and look at it real close, it could be anything, she said of Monets work. But from farther away, she said, she can imagine what Monet was really thinking and feeling.

Blank and Wilson said maybe some students will find their inner artist through the program. And maybe others will remember what a fun place the library is.

I just want them to think books are a good place to be, she said.

Contact Wendy Gragg at

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