LIBERTY TOWNSHIP | Many children's book authors will read one or two of their works when visiting schools.
Not Jim Aylesworth. He sings 'em.
The author of almost three dozen tales about bugs, bears, people and places sang parts of his latest, "Our Abe Lincoln," while entrancing Liberty Elementary School students Friday.
He also had students sing along with him.
Aylesworth discovered the power of his voice to grab and hold students' attention during his 25 years as a first grade teacher. He now employs it to inspire children to read.
"Back in the old-fashioned days," Aylesworth told the children in a sing-song voice, students sometimes forgot to pay attention. But when he first read them a library book, they were hooked.
"Those children were perfect angels," he sang. "The whole book, the kids were perfect."
In addition to books and his voice, Aylesworth discovered a "gadget" for directing students' attention: an extendable pointer.
"Kids were listening and kids were looking and kids were learning," he sang.
And because everyone enjoyed his readings, one day a student suggested that Aylesworth write a story himself. So he did, which led to many books.
One day a fly in the classroom distracted students' attention, which gave Aylesworth the idea for book No. 20, "Old Black Fly," which he also read in rhythm Friday.
"He's singing," one girl in the audience said to a neighbor. "That was fun," another whispered.
Aylesworth, a Chicago resident, said he does between 80 and 120 school visits a year for the same reasons he was a teacher: to turn children on to reading and make school fun.