Illinois State University President Larry Dietz became the latest participant in Thomas Metcalf School’s Mystery/Guest Reading Program.

Taking place in the Laboratory School’s Zimmerman Library, Dietz and a class of pre-kindergarten students chose the story “There is a Bird on Your Head” by Mo Willems, and made some creative changes. In the spirit of Homecoming, the group agreed that Illinois State’s mascot, Reggie Redbird, should be included in the telling, spawning the first-ever rendition of “There is a ‘Red’ Bird on Your Head.”

Metcalf teaching consultant Kara Story said the reading program started in 2012 so that faculty and staff could share in a love of reading with students. Readers choose one of their favorite children’s books, and often wear funny masks or dress up to get into character.

“This program has shown our students that we all share a love of a good story, and it allows for them to hear that love through the voice of a great author,” Story said.

Dietz said that his own love for reading was inspired by his mother, who was an elementary school teacher.

“Moments like these are important reminders of why we are doing what we do here at Illinois State University. These students will be the future teachers, police officers, and working professionals who will lead our society,” he said.

“The experience made my day. It was really a lot of fun.”