MASSILLON, Ohio — A good book can transport you into another world or another time. So can a good librarian.
Melody Woodson, the school librarian at Genoa Elementary School in Perry Township, transforms a book fair into a magical event ever year.
She and a friend, Bethany Johnson, spend a few days decorating the library. This year, the theme was Ancient Egypt and the room was adorned with a camel, pyramids and Pharaoh’s Tomb.
On Thursday, Woodson dressed up as Cleopatra as gleeful students purchased books from her.
The excitement on faces of the kids motivates Woodson to continue the tradition, which she started 15 years ago.
“It’s that first child that walks through that door, the very first one and goes, ‘Wow!’ And, it’s worth every second,” Woodson said.
Some of her other elaborate themes over the years were under the sea, an enchanted forest, a carnival and a fiesta.
GALLERY: See more images of previous years’ decorations here
The librarian said the unique experience helps remind kids about the importance of reading while also taking them on a journey or an escape.
“I think that reading is so important and so many kids are on games and different things and electronics, but reading is something you never lose and you need it all of your life,” she said.
Christine Wenning, the library supervisor for the district, said Mrs. Woodson makes reading exciting, especially during the pandemic. Last year, the book fair was online only because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“Having to be isolated last year was so hard on them and I’m so glad that this can bring them joy,” Wenning said. “This is what school is all about, getting to be together and getting to do fun things.”
The creativity is not lost on the children who like to guess Woodson’s possible costumes.
Katheryn Ickes, a third-grade student, said the book fair is a lot of fun.
“I think, wow, it’s really incredible. They took a lot of time doing this for all of us,” she said.
In addition to her Egyptian costume, Woodson also wore a mask to guard against the coronavirus. The almost incognito look seemed appropriate for a woman whose job can easily go unrecognized.
“I’m honored, but it’s not about me,” she said. “It’s about the kids. We’re here for the kids. We do it because we love the kids.”