CHARLESTON -- More judges are going back to school.

After the state Supreme Court kicked off its "Robes to School" program last week, Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod J. Kaufman visited Glenwood Elementary on Charleston's West Side on Wednesday.

Kaufman read "Wild Fox," a true story by Cherie Mason about the author and a fox that came into her yard one winter. The book, in which the fox had been crippled by a trap, highlights the relationship between the fox and the girl as well as the cycle of nature on animals in the wild.

"It is nice to get out of the office and read for a change," Kaufman said after the animated and energetic reading to fourth and fifth graders in Lisa Golomb's class. "It's nice to be doing this again. I love that the Supreme Court is encouraging this with the 'Robes to School' program."

Kaufman said he has participated in Read Aloud programs for years, reading to classes when each of his three children were in elementary school. He's read "Wild Fox" many times to schoolchildren and his own children, now ages 19, 15 and 12.

"I did read to my kids a lot," he said. "One time when I read the book, I handed out scraps of fox tas and pieces of fox fur. But the fur trader in Charleston has since closed his doors, and I have one daughter now who is against handing out real animal fur in class."

The Supreme Court's reading program kicked off last week with Supreme Court justices reading to schools.

Supreme Court spokeswoman Jennifer Bundy said the response has been good.

"I've personally taken call from over a dozen schools" requesting justices or judges to read," she said.

Kaufman had more praise for the program, which is part of Chief Justice Robin Jean Davis' Year of the Child, Too initiative.

"The West Virginia Supreme Court has launched a new outreach program called 'Robes to Schools' this year to humanize the judiciary for school-aged children in a friendly, caring and educational way," he said. "And I have been wanting to read this book aloud ever since my youngest was in fourth grade.

"Read Aloud is a wonderful program in any school. The books open windows of imagination and take us to places far and wide."

On the Supreme Court's Web site, there is a long list of judges -- circuit judges, family court judges, municipal judges and retired judges -- who have volunteered to read when asked.

Interested schools and teachers also can contact Bundy at (304) 340-2305 or Information Specialist Kandi Greter at (304) 340-2306.

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