By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Children's literature came to life at the Fort Hays State University fall story festival Thursday morning in the Memorial Union.

The annual festival brings want-to-be teachers and young students together.

This year, 24 FHSU students in Mary Meckenstock's children's literature class selected a book to read, followed by a coordinated activity for the approximately 150 preschool, kindergarten and first-grade students from Roosevelt, Lincoln and Holy Family elementary schools, Tiger Tots Nurtury Center and home-schooled students.

Overturned tables and chairs formed "reading circles" in the ballroom and Black and Gold Room.

Fourteen Tiger Tots ages 2 to 5, attended.

"We don't get to go on field trips, so this is something different we get to do," Tiger Tots lead teacher Sarah Windholz said. "It's here on campus, and they always enjoy it."

Heather Jamison, who home schools Basha, 7, and twins Emma and Joseph, 5, brought them, along with Asher, 14 months, to participate.

"Mary Meckenstock is my aunt," Jamison said. "She invites us every year. We enjoy the chance to get out and do something different. My kids love books; we love to read stories. A lot of our history lessons are through story books. So it's a good way to advance the material we're already using."

Meckenstock said the children's literature course is required of students before they are admitted to the college of education.

"It's the most fun (and most) popular activity they do," she said.

The FHSU students worked in pairs, taking turns reading the story and working together to lead the activity.

"Sometimes it's their first experience with reading a story and connecting activity with a group of children as they would in the classroom," Mechenstock said. "Some of them have younger brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews, but this is a group of children that they would have in the school system."

That's the case for Jordan Koehn, who has younger siblings.

"It's awesome. We love it," she said.

She and partner Anabell Reyes read "Ten Rosy Roses" and helped children make their own roses.

Two of the FHSU students, Christine Mick and Veronica Aparici, are enrolled in the Virtual College.

Mick came from Lawrence to participate when she couldn't find a comparable event there.

"It's a lot of fun," she said. "I stayed with my sister last night, and my niece helped me color (what she used in her cubicle)."

Aparici brought her daughter, Emma Ruiz, and granddaughter, Mia Ruiz, along as her partner.

Crafts included tissue-paper roses, lion heads and leaf rubbing.

"Some of the creativity is awesome," Meckenstock said.

Children hearing the story, "If You Give a Moose a Muffin," had a chance to pin the muffin on the moose.

Each group attended six sessions.