Make reading a part of your childs life

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2007

Reading has been a part of my life since birth, I assume. Of course, I can&8217;t remember my parents reading to me as an infant. But, based on the number of books I had as a child, I am sure they must have started reading to me pretty early in life.

I was one of those annoying children who wanted to read the same book over and over again. Oddly enough, the same is pretty much true today. I am the same with books as I am with movies; I can&8217;t seem to remember what happens in them. I guess I file them in my short-term memory and move on. Nonetheless, as a child I loved to read.

I remember receiving my first library card at my hometown library. Other than my social security card, which my mom wouldn&8217;t let me near for fear I would lose it, this card was the only card I had to put in the wallet of my purse as a little girl. I remember feeling so grown up that I had the card and could use it as adults would a credit card and such. Ah, the mind of children.

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I was blessed as a child to attend the summer reading program at the library each summer. Sometimes, I wonder if that was just a little away time for my grandmother, who babysat me. But whatever the reasoning, the summer reading programs helped develop me as a reader and a writer. I credit these programs for the incline in my reading levels. Throughout my school years, I was in the accelerated reading classes and in most instances scored above average on all of the standardized tests we were required to take back then.

This week, I had the pleasure of relinquishing those old fond memories of the summer reading programs of my past when I attended the puppet show at the Demopolis Children&8217;s Library.

I am ashamed to say that it was my first time visiting the library since I moved to Demopolis. Of course, the library, like all the buildings I have been in downtown, was impressive with its antique ambience, not to mention the assortment of displays and book collections my eyes bobbed back and forth to. I am one of those people who buy tons of books, but don&8217;t quite get around to reading them. I keep saying, one day I will. Maybe if I checked them out from the library, instead of buying them, and knew I only had a certain amount of time to read them, I would do a little better on that. Nonetheless, the library as a whole was enchanting. Lost as usual, I somehow found my way to the elevator, which had a sign, directing me to the puppet show.

When the elevator doors opened to the children&8217;s library upstairs, it was like a whole different library. Bright colors and displays were everywhere. It was a complete atmosphere of fun. It was a kid-friendly place, if I had ever seen one. Boy how times have changed. When I was in the summer reading programs, they stuck us in the back file room and turned on a video most days.

I was also impressed with the turnout of children for the show, but, also with the show itself. While the performers were entertaining, it was the lessons they were teaching the children I thought was the most impressive. The show was just part of the lists of events and activities including with the library&8217;s summer reading program.

Children&8217;s librarian Ashley Pearson said the library plans activities throughout the summer to help to entertain the children and get them more acquainted with reading. She said the children&8217;s library receives funding from the library&8217;s budget, which includes funding specifically for entertainment, decorations and crafts.

Pearson and the library staff have obviously devoted a lot of time and effort in developing the summer reading program for the children of Demopolis. It is now up to the parents and caregivers of the children to get their children active in reading and help to develop their reading skills throughout the summer months.

The National Institute for Literacy reported that the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2000 national reading assessment of fourth-grade students found that reading for fun had a positive relationship to performance on the NAEP reading scores. The 87 percent of students who reported reading for fun on their own time once a month or more performed at the proficient level, while students who never or hardly ever read for fun performed on a basic level. The report showed that students who read for fun every day scored the highest.

The Early Childhood Longitudinal Study by the NAEP in the spring of 2000, found that the children who were read to at least three times a week by a family member were twice as likely to score in the top 25 percent in reading than children who were read to less than three times a week.

Therefore, it is pertinent to children&8217;s development to make reading a part of their life, while in school and during the summer months.

Gennie Phillips is the managing editor of The Demopolis Times. She can be reached by e-mail to