At one point Wednesday afternoon in Martin Library, a preschool student burst out in babbles of exclamation, miming a fish swimming with her arms.
She continued in excitement at the sight of a jellyfish on a screen, the projected first page of a children's book about animals with stripes.
The preschooler was one in sea of students ages 3 to 6 who crowded into the library's reading room to meet children's author and illustrator Susan Stockdale, who read her book, "Stripes of All Types." Stockdale read her book to more than seven classes from the WYCA, Jackson K-8, York Academy Regional Charter School and York Day Nursery.
The author encouraged students to take ownership of their own artwork.
"This is something you all can do," Stockdale said.
The author's rhyming books and colorfully painted pictures challenge young students with vocabulary such as "sprawling," "dashing," and "darting," — plus words like "bromeliad," which is a word for plants growing in tropical regions of South America.
"I like to teach you new words," Stockdale said, "Because words are fabulous."
In the spotlight: Stockdale's book was chosen as this year's spotlight for the Pennsylvania One Book, Every Young Child program. The program focuses on increasing literacy among young students.
Stockdale stressed the importance of creating things over and over again for success.
"All I want to do is make the best book I can," she told the room full of young students. That includes redrawing and painting pictures, plus creating several drafts of the words in her books.
Stockdale told students she studied the animals in her book, including zebras, eels, tigers, jellyfish and frogs, to see why they have stripes. Some are for camouflage, others are to warn other creatures about their poisonous nature.
Beyond stretching the students' learning, Stockdale reminded the students they don't need to be adults to be artists or to make their own book.
"You don't need to grow up," she said. "You can go home and make one right now."
— Reach Nikelle Snader at email@example.com.