"Hank The Cowdog," Service Learning Among Features Of Oct. 27 Baylor Reading Conference

Oct. 25, 2000

by Lori Scott Fogleman

More than 600 teachers will be on the Baylor University campus Friday, Oct. 27, for the Baylor Reading Conference, held in conjunction with the Texas Association for the Improvement of Reading (TAIR).

The conference, which will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at several locations throughout campus, includes presentations by nationally known reading educators John R. Erickson, author of the million-selling Hank the Cowdog series, and Dr. Sue Christian Parsons, assistant professor of literacy education at Oklahoma State University and the daughter of Dr. Wally Christian, professor emeritus of religion at Baylor.

Leading Texas and Central Texas educators also will present and demonstrate information to improve classroom reading instruction and content-area instruction and assist in identifying high-quality instructional materials and assessment instruments.

The conference will begin with a general session at 9 a.m. in Waco Hall, featuring Erickson as the keynote speaker, as well as performer. He also will be available for autographs and to answer questions from teachers following his presentation.

A native of Midland who now makes his home in Perryton, Erickson began his writing career in 1967 publishing short stories while working full-time as a cowboy, farmhand and ranch manager in Texas and Oklahoma. It wasn't until the early 1980s that Erickson's "Hank the Cowdog" made his debut in the magazine The Cattleman. After quickly becoming a favorite of readers, Erickson published 2,000 copies on his own of The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog, which sold out in six weeks. Since then, more than 3-million copies of Hank the Cowdog books have been sold, and every Hank book has been recorded, making it the longest running successful children's series on audio ever, according to Billboard magazine. For bilingual readers, the first six Hank adventures have been translated into Spanish.

Erickson visits schools throughout Texas and the U.S. and is a supporter of the Governor's Reading Initiative program, the goal of which is to have all students reading on grade

level by the third grade and continue on grade level throughout their schooling.

Following Erickson's address, teachers will attend breakout sessions on various elementary and secondary reading topics in rooms in the Draper Academic Building and Bill Daniel Student Center.

At a noon luncheon in Barfield Drawing Room in the student center, Parsons will deliver the keynote address on the use of literature in the classroom. A Baylor graduate, Parsons also earned her master's degree from Baylor and her doctorate from Arizona State University. She has been a member of the Oklahoma State faculty since 1999, teaching reading education in the School of Curriculum and Educational Leadership.

Following the luncheon, teachers will continue their breakout sessions. The conference will conclude at 2:30 p.m. in Bennett Auditorium as Parsons addresses service learning.

For the first time this year, the Central Texas League of Middle Schools will join the TAIR conference. Other schools that have provided financial support for the conference are Clifton ISD, Connally ISD, Copperas Cove ISD, Killeen ISD, Kopperl ISD, Moody ISD, Region 12 Education Center, Region 12 Mentor Network, Rio Brazos Education Co-op and Waco ISD.

"For almost 30 years, the Baylor Reading Conference has provided an outstanding professional development opportunity for reading teachers, content-area teachers, reading coordinators and administrators from the Central Texas area," said Dr. Pat Sharp, professor of curriculum and instruction in the School of Education and the coordinator of the conference. "We are very encouraged by the number of teachers who attend and take such an active role in the conference."

For more information about the reading conference, contact Sharp or Phylicia Hernandez at (254) 710-2410.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?