By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary senior Crystal Llanos has spoken Spanish for as long as she can remember.

But she didn’t learn to read and write the language until the third grade.

Wanting to make sure the next generation learns at a younger age, Llanos jumped at a chance to record audio books for Kennedy Elementary School students.

“I spoke it. I just couldn’t read it and I couldn’t write it and I don’t want that to happen to other children,” Llanos said. “I want them to learn at a young age and I want them to learn well. Even me learning on my own, there were a lot of mistakes that I made. With this, it will help them to avoid those mistakes.”

Llanos recorded three titles — Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree and Yaci and Her Doll.

“It was super fun listening to my own voice,” said Llanos. “I did such a good job. My parents were so proud and happy I was doing it.”

Llanos wasn’t new to voice over work. She recorded a commercial for Carl’s Jr. about a year ago.

“I learned a lot from them because they taught me how to speak and project my voice,” she said.

McNary senior Camryn Ronnow recored three titles in English—Beef Stew, Little Bear and The Day I Had to Play with My Sister.

Another McNary student, Ethan Schra, who has done sound effects for the drama department and many other recordings at the school, recorded Llanos and Ronnow’s voices.

McNary senior Emma Snyder played violin for the books.

Science teacher Frank Hanson and media productions instructor Jason Heimerdinger supervised the project.

“They did an awesome job. We’re so excited,” said Maria Neads, who teaches second grade at Kennedy Elementary. “The engagement is so much higher when they have something to listen to, rather than just have them sit and read it by themselves.”

Llanos returned to Kennedy with McNary senior Ivy Parker to pick up a new series of books—Arthur’s Tooth, Baby Whales Drink Milk and Curious George in English and The Magic School Bus in the Center of the Earth, Ramona the Pest and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs in Spanish.

“My biological father is blind so we relied heavy on audio books,” Parker said. “I understand that some kids don’t have the opportunity to have people read to them. I thought this was a really fun experience to have. I really love kids and I really wanted to be able to help with this.”

Kennedy Elementary received a $5,000 grant through Keizer Rotary last summer to expand its audio library to over 100 titles. Along with McNary students, Rotarians and fourth and fifth graders at Kennedy have helped record books.

Community members who would like to volunteer to record books can contact Lori Stapleton, library media assistant at Kennedy, at stapleton_lori@salkeiz.k12.or.us.

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