For 5-year-old Olivia Gifford, creating paper crowns and coloring pictures is a lot more fun alongside a Daffodil Festival princess.
At a small round table Saturday at the Bonney Lake Pierce County Library, Olivia was busy at work coloring a picture next to her mom, Megan Gifford, her 3-year-old sister, Sophia, and Daffodil Festival princess Heather Haugen.
“Little girls love princesses,” said Megan, heard that the princesses would appear at some local libraries through social media.
Every year, 23 princesses are chosen to represent each high school in Pierce County and participate in community events throughout the year. One of those events is the Princess Read Program, where the princesses read books to local children at Pierce County libraries to create positive reading experiences and as part of a “pro-education” piece. The program is in its fifth year this year.
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“It gives opportunities for kids to be inspired,” said Steve James, executive director for the annual Daffodil Festival. “This is what actual princesses are built to do — to give (kids) a passion for learning. They are real-life role models for kids.”
It gives opportunities for kids to be inspired. This is what actual princesses are built to do — to give (kids) a passion for learning. They are real-life role models for kids.
Steve James, executive director for the annual Daffodil Festival
Haugen, a senior from Bonney Lake High School, was at the Bonney Lake library on Saturday. She was called “Princess Heather” by some of the children she met.
“It’s exciting and really fun to see the kids — they kind of light up when they first see you,” she said.
“They’re shy at first,” added Elizabeth Larios, a senior at Sumner High School and another Daffodil Festival princess. “It takes them a while to warm up.”
But after they do, the kids are eager to interact with them, said Haugen and Larios, who donned their yellow daffodil dresses to the event.
Olivia said her favorite part of the event was “meeting the princesses,” and when it came time to gather around for the reading, listened intently, along with 12 other children. The princesses read picture books, including “Purple Little Bird” by Greg Foley and “Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse” by Kevin Henkes.
Both Haugen and Larios knew some of the children they were meeting with from previous involvement with the community. Haugen is a swimming instructor while Larios teaches preschool at the Gordon Family YMCA in Sumner.
“I like all the interactions, from little kids to adults,” Larios said. “It’s great meeting people."
“I think it’s nice that we read to them because it gets them excited about books,” said Haugen, who plans to attend Pacific Lutheran University after graduation to study elementary education. “It shows a sense of togetherness.”
I think it’s nice that we read to them because it gets them excited about books. It shows a sense of togetherness.
Heather Haugen, Daffodil Festival princess from Bonney Lake High School
A Pierce County Library System staff member for 20 years, senior branch assistant Jill Cartwright witnesses first-hand how these events shape kids and other community members.
“They see different personalities at the library,” she said. “They get comfortable being here.”
In April, a Daffodil Festival queen will be chosen after interviews and speeches from the 23 princesses. But all of them will continue to partake in events throughout the year, and will be a part of the annual Daffodil Festival parade on April 8.
The princesses will visit the Bonney Lake Pierce County Library again at 1 p.m. April 1, and at the Sumner Pierce County Library at 11 a.m. April 1. For other locations and times, visit piercecountylibrary.org.
Princess Read Program
▪ 11 a.m. April 1 at the Sumner Pierce County Library, 1116 Fryar Ave, Sumner
▪ 1 p.m. April 1 at the Bonney Lake Pierce County Library, 18501 90th St E, Bonney Lake