Libraries use mascots to promote reading and higher education in elementary schools


Pu Ying Huang

Jose Quezada, 12, reads a Naruto graphic novel while waiting for dismissal at Cedar Creek Middle School Thursday afternoon. UT Libraries has joined the READ promotion in which they’ve distributed posters of UT mascot Hook Em  reading in various settings to 655 schools encouraging students to read more.

Christine Ayala

Posters of Bevo and Hook ‘Em reading on the beach, in a chemistry lab and at the stadium have filled the libraries at local schools, encouraging kids to pick up a book and read.

UT Libraries joined the American Library Association’s READ promotion to produce four posters of the UT mascots. They have been distributed to 655 schools in the Texas Education Agency’s Region XIII area since mid-September.

UT Libraries spokesperson Travis Willmann said once the posters were distributed and the images appeared online, he began receiving positive feedback and requests for posters from teachers, librarians and UT fans. He said more than 50 teachers asked for posters during the first week of distribution.

“As soon as we put it out there we got a good response through emails and Facebook,” Willmann said. “We had somebody contact us from as far away as Colorado Springs to find out how she could get the posters.”

Dixie West, a librarian at Cedar Creek Middle School in Bastrop ISD and a UT alumnna, said receiving the box of posters to find her mascot was a nice surprise. She said she emailed UT Libraries to express her appreciation.

“The first one I saw was the one with the band, and I was in band at UT so it just made my day,” West said.

West said the posters fit well with the middle school’s initiative encouraging its students to pursue higher education.

“Each teacher has the college they went to on their door, and we have posters for universities up in halls,” West said. “We encourage higher education of any kind, so things like this are great.”

Boone Elementary librarian Tina Shands said the faculty at her school also show their collegiate pride to emphasize the importance of higher education.

“Even though we are an elementary school, we want them to be college-ready,” Shands said. “The kids will recognize Bevo and UT, and it will definitely encourage them to read. They love them.”

Willmann said the current posters are available online as free downloads, but if the interest increases, full-size posters may be sold to reach other schools outside the region.

The READ promotion, which began in 1985, frequently features celebrities and actors. Willmann said the positive response to the mascot posters could lead to others featuring celebrities associated with the University.

“We didn’t go with a celebrity. We thought the mascots would be cost-effective and didn’t anticipate such a positive response,” Willmann said. “We have a wish list in mind of some UT alumni we would like to get in contact with. We would also like to get suggestions from students.”

Printed on Friday, October 12, 2012 as: Libraries use mascots to promote reading