Charleah Firestone, left, a library assistant at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries, poses with Graham Stecklein, 8, for a picture in the children’s book room. Stecklein enjoys mystery books and R.L Stein is his favorite author. The library is offering a series of programs for Moffat County youths.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Charleah Firestone, left, a library assistant at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries, poses with Graham Stecklein, 8, for a picture in the children’s book room. Stecklein enjoys mystery books and R.L Stein is his favorite author. The library is offering a series of programs for Moffat County youths.

Libraries offer seasonal programs for youths and adults

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Craig Branch winter programs

Mondays

• 5 to 6:30 p.m. Family game night

First Wednesday of each month

• 4 to 5 p.m. Youth club

Thursdays

• 10 and 11:30 a.m. Story time

After 32 years of teaching music to kindergartners, Charleah Firestone knows what it takes to keep children interested in their studies.

Now retired and a library assistant at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries, Firestone’s mission to educate and engage lives in weekly story time and her passion for books.

Although she said she was only an average reader when she was young, she now helps drive several programs to increase literacy opportunities for local children.

The library offers several options to keep children engaged in literacy throughout the winter.

Most of these efforts are geared toward pre-school age children and younger, which Firestone said is key to improving literacy.

“You have to read, no matter what job you go into,” she said. “It’s so important. And when they come to story time, they really get into it.”

At 10 and 11:30 a.m. each Thursday, parents can bring their children to story time, during which Firestone reads two or three books with a winter theme.

Between books, Firestone leads songs, a tribute to her former career.

“They love to sing, and they love to tell you stories and tell you about their day,” she said. “If I’m reading a story about a cat, they’ll tell me all about their cat from home.”

She said it’s important to start as young as possible with teaching literacy, because it’s hard for students to catch up once they get behind in school.

For a little extra motivation, Firestone said the winter reading program offers incentives for children and adults to read on their own time.

“Winter Reading Won­derland,” the library’s winter reading program, began Nov. 2 and continues until Feb. 26.

Young readers have five levels they can read, each with specific requirements designed to expand reading boundaries.

“On some levels they have to read so many pages, or maybe a mystery book or a magazine that they normally wouldn’t read,” she said. “We want to get them outside their reading norm.”

She said some children who might show little interest, shyness or fear about reading at a young age respond well to books that appeal to interests they might already have.

“Younger kids like to hear about what’s in their thoughts right now,” she said. “I once read a book about the leaves changing colors, but it was two weeks before the leaves outside actually changed. And it just didn’t really work for them.”

She said young boys tend to like books about dinosaurs, trucks and snowmobiles, and girls are attached to princess stories and the “Fancy Nancy” series.

Adults also are encouraged to continue enjoying recreational reading and can drop their name into a drawing for different prizes. Winners for each of the prizes will be chosen at the end of each month.

Also, family game night takes place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Mondays.

She said the family living room atmosphere offers a quiet, comfortable place for family enjoyment, and maybe, the children will wander around to pick out a book or two.

“We try to be welcoming and get people in,” she said. “We have families, that this is their Saturday. They come in and look at books. A lot of our programs are targeted at real young children, but we want to build on that and start to get younger adults involved, too, because it’s so important.”

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