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Duncan talks with parents and mentors about the importance of reading with children

March 28, 2012


By Duncan McDougall

Last Thursday evening I had the pleasure of giving two fun presentations in Rutland.

The first was for the Everybody Wins! program at the Rutland Intermediate School.  Everybody Wins! is a mentoring program that matches local adults with children in the school. Each pair then reads together weekly at lunch.

Many of the children in the program advance their reading skills significantly with the ongoing support and help of a caring adult. Some reading mentors read together with the same child for multiple years and develop a strong bond.

At that event I spoke with the 30 assembled children, as well as an additional 30-40 mentors and parents. We talked about why it is so vitally important so share books with children on a regular basis, and how much fun doing so can be. I read everyone an amusing children’s picture book (My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza) and the kids joined in with gusto and lots of great ideas. Then I gave brief descriptions of many of the hundreds of beautiful new books I had brought with me, and the children leapt up to select any two books to keep forever.

My second event took place at the Rutland County Head Start program, where I was joined by 20 parents and 25 children from 1- to 4-years-old. Head Start provides a variety of services to low-income families and their children.

While the kids played in another room I gave a 20-minute seminar with the parents on why they need to read with their children as often as possible. We also talked about the impact books and reading have on a child’s development and ways to make reading with a child fun and easy even if one isn’t a strong reader.

A number of the parents present did not have their GED yet. Once that was done, the children came in and I read them My Friend Rabbit by Eric Rohmann, a Caldecott Medal winner that is perfect for very interactive storytelling in a room of very active kids! When we were done, each child selected any two new books to keep. For many of these children, the two CLiF books will represent a significant addition to their personal collection.

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