FARMINGTON — Bluffview Elementary School buzzed with excited energy Tuesday morning.

While students looked forward to the five-day Thanksgiving holiday, they were treated to a day of reading, singing and artistic exploration as the school's Young Authors' Fair kicked off.

The event is held to inspire children to write, said the school's lead teacher, Liz Ledek. Kindergartners through fifth-grade students participates in the program.

"I absolutely love to do this," said Melanie Milburn, a Durango-based singer, songwriter, author and teacher after making a presentation to Sarah Barron's fifth grade class. "I tell them to write the things (they) know. I'm passionate about kids and I love sharing my music."

Students asked engaging questions, she said.

They wanted to know if it had always been her dream to become an author, how many books she's written, if it costs a lot to produce a book and other details of her profession.

"Their response has been phenomenal," Milburn said.

Milburn's musical presentation certainly caught the attention of Barron's class.

The students eagerly joined in a sing-along session as Milburn sung from her book, "I Love You More ... Than Chocolate."

After being dismissed for lunch, many students hummed and sang the tune in the hallways.

One even stopped and gave Milburn a hug before leaving the classroom.

The fair's headlining presenters were storyteller Paulette Atencio and Navajo artist Mark Silversmith.

"They hear a storyteller and get all enthused," Atencio said.


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The rhythms and cadences of storytelling fill even her everyday speech, making it irresistible.

She hopes that through the art of storytelling, she can encourage schoolchildren to think creatively and express themselves.

"I hope I have helped to pave the way for future generations," Atencio said. "I want them to be able to express themselves in different ways. I want them to be proud of who they are."

Atencio's presentation was accompanied by visual illustration work by Navajo artist Mark Silversmith.

"I'm an illustrator and I show the kids how I interpret a story," Silversmith said. "There were a lot of nice questions. Being kids, they think about a lot of these things."

The children were encouraged to draw illustrations while listening to Atencio's stories.

Presenters, school staff and administrators hope the students take a renewed sense of curiosity from the event.

"The reading, the seeing, the getting to know opens all kinds of doors for (the students)," Atencio said. "They're very eager to learn. It's like we are planting little seeds for them."