GULFPORT -- Socks N. Pockets, an award-winning children's literacy program, stopped by the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport on Saturday with its message: Reading is fun.
Program leader Vicki Miller, dressed in bright overalls, visits libraries, schools and other organizations. Sporting a bag of props and puppets, she shares animated stories, hands-on activities and "general silliness" with children.
The program is sponsored by Quota Mississippi.
"This program was born right before Hurricane Katrina, and we had to put it aside for obvious reasons. We decided to pick it back up," Miller said. "Children are my passion and my ministry."
She said the name Socks N. Pockets came from the program's original format.
"When the kids came in, they'd be told to kick off their shoes and reach in my pocket for a comfy pair of socks," she said. "Then they would choose a book to take home."
Socks N. Pockets' debut was at the Boys & Girls Club, Aug. 28, 2005.
"Everything got wiped out, including the books and socks," Miller said. "Hopefully, we can go back to that. I would like to get a grant to take the program on a grander scale."
At Lynn Meadows, Miller read children's stories such as "Aliens Love Underpants," "Scaredy Squirrel," "Leonardo the Terrible Monster" and parents' favorite "The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly." She followed up with activities for kids and parents such as a tea party and an alien underpants clothesline.
She often introduces the alphabet in American Sign Language to older children.
Participants took the Monster Reader Pledge and got their own Monster Reader button and a Monster Muncher kit to take home.
"Our message to them is that just because it's summer, we can't all take a break from reading. I tell them if they do, their brains turn to mashed potatoes," she said.
"I tell parents instead of sitting in front of the TV or computer with their child, interact with them. Read to them. Get them to read to you. They will benefit from it so much by the time they get to grade school."