More than 40 children, dressed in comfy pajamas while snacking on cookies and sipping on juice packets, gathered Wednesday to listen to Kane County judges David Akemann, Rene Cruz and John Dalton read stories aloud to them at the 15th annual "Family Reading Night with the Judges" at the Kane County Law Library in St. Charles.
Some of the kids snuggled in their parents' laps while "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak was read by Dalton (his personal favorite), while others gathered around the feet of Judge Akemann and helped make sound effects to go along with the story "Turkey Trouble" by Wendi Silvano. The story of a turkey putting on disguises of other farm animals was a hit.
"Here comes the cow sound," said Akemann. Giggles could be heard from adults and children alike. "Who wants to moo with me?" Akemann enlisted the help of his wife and retired schoolteacher, Vickie, to pick out his books. A parent of three grown children, he enjoyed reading silly stories to his kids and embellishing the characters. Each judge read two books of their choice.
Then the sugar buzz hit the kid and "ants in your pants" syndrome appeared. They got wiggly and chatty. Balloons sprinkled around the room were being popped left and right. Cruz called the group a tough crowd, laughing as he added "I'm used to controlling order in a courtroom and it was much more difficult here with them."
They eventually settled back down for the last story of the night, "The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!" by Jon Scieszka, which is read every year.
Ann Kennedy, a mother of four from St. Charles, said she thought it was a "great community event" and will definitely be back next year.
"I just like the whole idea of judges letting their hair down and putting on their pj's and showing that there's another side to them other than the somewhat intimidating one they usually show to the world," said Dalton.