Read me a story!

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By Joan Irene Krohn

Willa, age 3, runs up to her mom with a library book in hand.“Read me a story,” she begs. Maria Seefz, Willa’s mom, is delighted to read to her daughter.Seefz is an elementary education teacher and is passionate about the value of reading out loud and talking about story books with Willa.

Seefz only hopes she will find the same strong support for reading in Alamosa, Colo., that they have found at the Carnegie Public Library’s children’s program. The Carnegie program has meant a lot to them both. But they are leaving for Colorado in two weeks.

“I hope we’ll find a Mom’s Group like the wonderful group we’ve found here,” said Seefz.The Mom’s Group is an outgrowth the Carnegie Library’s It’s Story Time. A number of activities have grown from the friendship of moms and dads with children getting together at It’s Story Time.

“Reading is Spooktacular,”says Kate Alderete, the children’s librarian at the Carnegie Library in Las Vegas.Alderete encourages young readers by displaying books about spooks, witches and all the myriad of fun things that children love about Halloween.Alderete has eight “Reading Ways” for children to become great readers — and the parents put ideas into practice.

The first Reading Way is to read everyday — every single day.Liz Probst, mother of three boys ages 5, 3 and 6 months, reads bedtime stories every night. The oldest child enjoys the stories the most, but the 3-year-old listens and participates.

Having a regular routine at bedtime gives the children a sense of security and expectation that they enjoy.Part of the bedtime routine is picking out a favorite story and hearing one more time.Probst is a busy mom. With three children she is kept busy.But in spite of the full schedule, she always finds time to read to the children.

Julie Lucero, with four children, also has a full schedule. She finds that the parents who participate with the library reading program also share baby clothes, child care and in some cases, home schooling. Recently she and some of the other moms took a trip to the Salmon Ranch Raspberry Farm. The children loved picking raspberries and seeing how they grow.

“Read out loud” is the Second Way to become a good reader.Reading out loud keeps the children engaged with the story.Pointing out illustrations in big picture books helps tell the story too. Reading out loud is one of Kate Alderete’s favorite jobs in the library.And she is good at it.

Last week’s story was about a kitten that mistook the moon for a beautiful saucer of milk in the sky.The story of the kitten’s antics trying to get at the saucer of milk kept the children entertained.

Children like kittens.They like stories about them and other animals both real and make believe.

Reading Way #3 is read about things you like.Children like dogs, cows, birds and all kinds of animals.

They like adventures and particularly enjoy mishaps.Perhaps that’s why the kitten’s failed attempts to get to the moon milk saucer are such a delight.Choosing stories about a subject that your child likes is a great way to engage your child in reading. Subjects like dinosaurs, plants, cooking foods, fantasy lands and creatures are some of the subjects your child might enjoy. Every child is her/his own person and will have some interesting and unique ideas about what is fun to read.Kathleen Holt, a mother of 6-year-old twins, said that she always follows where the children’s lead when it comes to book topics. The family always has a “book bucket” in the back seat where books are being either returned or checked out of the library.

Reading Way #4 recommends to parents that they encourage their children to take a book everywhere they go. The idea of a book bucket fits perfectly with this. Think about the times you want to take a quick ride to the post office or grocery store, but get trapped in traffic or for another reason the children are bored.A book in the back seat is a ready source of entertainment.

Reading everything you can is Way #5. Maps, newspapers, menus and magazines are a great opportunities to read aloud or with your children.These activities help reinforce with children how pervasive the need to read is. How many times very day do we read a sign, a paper, a letter, a computer screen or a TV screen, etc.?One family made a count and it came out to be nearly a hundred times.So parents have opportunities to read aloud or have their child read aloud many times during the day. As we pass through each day, take advantage of every opportunity to read.

Talking about what you read is important and that idea is Reading Way #6. When Alderete was reading the kitten story she asked, “Why did the kitten think the moon was a saucer of milk?” Eager children wanted to volunteer an answer and then talk on about the similarities between the moon and a saucer of milk.

Keep a log of what you read is Reading Way #7. Even adults like to keep a log of the books they have read. One woman said that she keep a reading log for one year and then went back to read what she had said about each book. She remembered what she liked best about the book or what she learned from it that she used later. Children too can keep a reading log too. They might even put stars by the titles and have a system of rating how much they liked the book. For example, five star books are the best.

Lastly, Reading Way #8 asks children to be proud of reading accomplishments.

Because families with young children have common bonds and enjoy each other’s company, other activities grow out of their interests. Music Together is a program that many of the families with young children enjoy.Cristina Gonzalez is a registered Music Together teacher.This program is for moms and dads with children birth to 5. The program encourages music development and language development.So it fits like a hand in glove with the Carnegie Library’s Children’s reading program. When parents participate with library reading programs, they find many ways to facilitate children’s development. Music Together is “a high quality art experience for both children and parents that many here have experienced,” said Gonzales.

It’s not about “pushing kids” several parents said. It’s about giving children opportunities to grow and find out what they like and don’t like.It’s a way to open their world and to give them a good chance at loving life and feeling successful.

Kate Alderete said that twenty-seven or twenty-eight families have participated in her library children’s programs over the past several months, but there is always room for more and all are welcome.Call her at the Carnegie Library or just show up for the next story reading program on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. or 3:30 p.m.