Preschool students encouraged to value books, reading during literacy night
November 19, 2000
The 34 three- and four-year-olds from the Craig Head Start program who attended Family Literacy Night with their parents were read to by members of the Moffat Country High School speech team. Students also got library cards of their own all in the name of promoting literacy.
“We wanted to do this so we can get the whole family involved in literacy and in knowing about the library,” said Roberta Serrano, director of the local Head Start program.
And literacy is an issue entire families must address.
Millions of adults in the United States cannot read well enough to fill out a job application, follow a bus schedule, understand a medicine label, or read to their children. According to a recent report, “The State of Literacy in America,” released by the National Institute for Literacy, more than 90 million adults one out of every two are functionally illiterate or near illiterate, lacking the minimum skills required in a modern society.
The Literacy Volunteers of America, a national organization dedicated to helping people learn to read, believes the ability to read and write, to understand and be understood, is critical to personal freedom and the maintenance of a democratic society.
A 1987 publication by the National Governor’s Association Task Force on Adult Literacy found that preschool children whose parents read to them are much better prepared to start school, and perform significantly better in school than those who have not been exposed to reading. An early start with a strong reading program also has been shown to encourage kids to graduate from high school and pursue life-enhancing careers.
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The Craig-Moffat County Library hosts literacy nights each month. Thursday, Head Start students attended for a night of fun geared toward promoting reading.
According to Serrano, Head Start is a child development program, funded 100 percent by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that has served low-income children and their families since 1965. The program has been in Craig since 1994 and includes a curriculum of life skills such as nutrition, self-help and health as well as regular pre-school themes such as art, dramatic play, building with blocks, learning numbers and reading.
“We try to give the children a head start in life,” Serrano said.
While members of the speech team read stories to the pre-schoolers, children’s librarian Ginny Franks took parents on a guided tour of the library. Sheryl Yeargain, mother of three-year-old Tiffany Lingo, said she was happy to take the tour even though she and Tiffany use the library regularly. “[Tiffany’s] always asking, ‘Can I get a book?’ She wants to be a doctor when she grows up, but right now she’s hooked on Clifford books and books about the alphabet and numbers.”
The parents of five year old Izauro Gonzales Jr. said he’s learning a lot in the Head Start program and they plan to get him a library card of his own.
“We’re very happy, but it’s hard to keep up with him,” his mother, Naria Gonzales said.
Although both his parents speak only Spanish, Izauro’s father said the boy is learning to speak English in the Head Start program.
After the parent’s tour, the speechsters gave an animated choral presentation of “Over The River And Through The Woods,” by Lydia Marie Child.
Both the preschoolers and their parents were captivated by the 10-minute performance.
“This gives the students an opportunity to work together as a team instead of competing with each other,” speech coach Jill Grimes said. “Some day, these young children will grow up and remember that older students helped them by reading to them.”
Earlier in the week, students had drawn pictures of Beanie Babies, then told a story to their parents about their drawings, and the parents wrote the tale down for them. Serrano compiled these stories and drawings into books which she presented to each child at Family Literacy Night.
The library also received a copy.
McDonald’s restaurant donated Beanie Babies to the Head Start kids and the Friends of the Library donated $50 to the speech team.