WATERLOO — You wouldn’t expect showing up at school on a Saturday morning to be popular.

But Kingsley Elementary School’s halls were crowded and its gym was full on the usual day off of classes for the annual Kingsley Read-In fundraiser. The secret to that level of participation was simple: Pajamas.

Most of the children wore pajamas and many had pillow and blankets. Even some of the adults wore pajamas.

“That’s what makes it cool,” Principal Amber Dietz said of attending the event, the kick-off to a 10-day student reading challenge. Students collect pledges and read a certain amount of minutes each day to earn the money, which benefits the school’s parent-teacher organization. “We’ve done that for five years now.”

Students who attended were given a free book to take home thanks to funding from the Waterloo Schools Foundation. And the Waterloo Public Library was there to share information about its online resources.

Before students and parents settled into a classroom or the gym with a book, they could swing by the cafeteria and get a doughnut and juice or coffee.

Third-grader Chase Westendorf was there in his p.j.’s along with his mom, dad and sister, Chloe, who is in kindergarten. He was reading a “Ripley’s Believe it or Not” book that featured a “vampire giraffe” and people with huge tongues, among many other unusual finds.

“It is fun,” Chase said of the event.

“You were excited last night, right?” asked his mother, Lacie Westendorf. “It was hard to go to sleep last night because you were so excited.”

Dad Tom Westendorf said the family usually makes it to the event. “This is a once-a-year thing, come to do the reading challenge,” he said.

Even some former students with fond remembrances of past years showed up for the event. Among those were Sophia Bell and Hanna Johnson, sixth-graders at Hoover Middle School.

“My sister goes here,” said Bell, who was sitting in the gym with Johnson and her family. “And I like doughnuts, and I like to read. We just come here in pajamas and we read.”

Johnson’s brother, Eli, a fourth-grader at Kingsley, said he liked the idea of coming to school on a Saturday and seeing his friends in his pajamas. If he was at home for the morning would he be in his p.j.’s anyway? “Probably,” said Eli.

Dave Johnson, the kids’ dad, noted, “They love to wear pajamas. We went to Jimmy Johns (sandwich shop) one time in their pajamas.”

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Waterloo Schools / HCC Reporter

Education reporter for the Courier

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