Reading is peg on which school success hangs

Published 7:00 am Saturday, February 1, 2014

By  Carol Phares

Guest Columnist 

How important is your child’s success in school? Most agree children’s success in school plays a big part in their success in life.

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For most of our children, school success is the first step to a successful life. Parents understand this and look for ways to enhance their children’s education before they even enter school. They take educational vacations, buy educational electronic games, enroll their child in the best day-care facilities. One thing lacking is reading.

A child’s reading ability can make his career in school excruciating if she cannot read well or it can make it a dream if he loves to read. Today’s children are bombarded with sound bites, text messages and short social media posts. Sound bites tell our kids that if they wear this or do that, they will be popular. Text messaging and short social media posts have created a subculture of creative spelling of short messages, such as, “Where r u”, without a question mark; or, “brb” for “Be right back.”

A good school will make sure children have time for sustained reading in the classroom. Outside of school, children read texts, tweets and Facebook messages. Children are not getting the sustained reading once a staple of childhood rainy day activities. With less sustained reading comes a shortened attention span. What is a concerned parent to do?

Your public library is there to help you help. The library staff is trained to help you and your child choose just the right book. The children’s librarian’s mantra is, “The right book, for the right child, at the right time.”

You can begin to foster a love for reading by bringing them to Crosby Memorial Library’s Story Hour with Ms. Sylvia every Friday from 10. to 11 a.m. from Feb. 7 to March 21. Poplarville Public Library begins its Story Time Tuesday, Feb. 4 from 2 to 3 p.m. This special activity is for children between the ages of three and six and will entertain your child, while at the same time lengthening their attention span and fostering a love for stories, books and reading. These programs are free!

Ms. Sylvia says, “I get very excited when it’s time for Story Hour at the library. I like to reconnect with the children I know and get to meet the new ones.

“In New Orleans, I taught kindergarten for 28 years until Katrina. I missed my children. I missed their sweet little faces and their individual personalities. Now I have recaptured that loving feeling once again by my time with them in Story Hour.

“It’s great fun when I see their little smiles light up as we sing a funny song, or learn a finger play. I like to see their eyes open wide when they are wrapped up in a story.

That’s what Story Hour is. We sing songs, we do finger plays and we have interesting crafts. We just have a lot of fun. And it is a great way to introduce reading to the young child.

I love it! And so will you and your child.”

(Carol is head librarian at Margaret Reed Library and director of the Pearl River County Library System.)