There’s big and then there’s giant. Jim Arkfeld’s storybook falls into the giant category.
When Arkfeld arrives with his 6-foot-tall storybook, “A Magical Book,” most of the students have crane their necks to take it all in.
“Whoever said all things are bigger in Texas has not yet read Jim Arkfeld’s giant storybook,” said Miano Elementary School principal Antonio Rosales. “Kindergarten students’ jaws hit the floor after seeing a storybook that’s much taller than the average adult ... and the storyline was magical!”
Arkfeld retired five years ago from teaching at Los Banos Junior High School. Over the years he had been bothered by the fact that many incoming junior high students were reading below grade level – some even at the same level as third graders. When a kindergarten teacher asked him to read to her class after he retired, Arkfeld agreed. Soon, other kindergarten teachers extended invitations. He hoped by reading to make a small difference in the development of future readers.
After reading dozens of children’s books over a couple of years, Arkfeld came up with a storyline of his own and decided to write a children’s book. Not only was the storyline entertaining, but it also promoted the importance of reading books. He called it “A Magical Book.”
Emily Platt, a talented artist employed by Miano Elementary School, agreed to illustrate the book. Her work brought the book to life. Professional assistance was donated by the local UPS store for the computer layout and printing.
That was great, but Arkfeld wanted something different. He wanted something that would really catch attention and help promote the reading of books. So he decided to transform his newly published storybook into a “giant” book over 6-feet tall.
Since a person couldn’t simply do a Google search for the directions to construct a huge book, Arkfeld had to improvise.
The local UPS store owner contacted a friend who operates another UPS store in Clovis. That store has the capability of printing out the 3-foot by 6-foot pages. They also agreed to contribute to the effort. The local Home Depot store in Los Banos contributed the wood, page mounts, paint and other materials to construct the book’s structure. After much trial and error, the book was constructed.
Now elementary students are really enjoying this one-of-a-kind giant book. And Arkfeld has big, big hopes for future readers in Los Banos.