Reading visit reaped rewards for youth, storytellers

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 28, 2008

Twenty-four sets of eyes were staring intently, hanging on ever rhyming and tongue-twisting word.

Never has an audience paid so much attention to me.

“Silly Sally went to town, walking backwards upside down,” I read, which was greeted by a chorus of laughter and howls of joy.

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And so it went, page after page of “Silly Sally” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do You See?” All the while I could see that every word made a difference and drove home the reason I was there in the first place: Literacy.

With the theme of “Bringing Children and Communities Together,” the Lawrence County Early Childhood Center celebrated Week of the Young Child last week with a variety of events including guest readers, acted out stories and a literary character parade. If even one child grasped the importance and joy of reading then the week was a huge success.

“We know literacy is such an important foundation to children’s later success in school,” Early Childhood Center Director Sue Vanderhoof said. “You cannot start early enough on reading and writing.”

Calling literacy skills critical to development, Vanderhoof said it was a perfect fit for this year’s Week of the Young Child focus.

“We think it is very important that all kids — not just children with disabilities — get a chance to experience the wonderful things books have in store for us.”

From the perspective of someone who believes that reading each and every day enriches your life and expands your knowledge, how could I say no to the request to read to these youth?

Many people say they are too busy to find time to read for themselves. I don’t buy that for a second. Our society just has to realize that entertainment is more than plopping down on the couch and watching the latest collection of idiots participate in the flavor-of-the-month reality TV show.

I am not against TV at all. In fact, I love it. But as someone — likely Aristotle — once said, “all things in moderation.” What’s the moral there? Too much of anything can be dangerous.

So grab a book of any kind. Pick up a magazine. Spend some time really reading something. Sit down with a newspaper to learn about your community. (I had to throw that in there.)

This lifelong commitment to ready was part of the message I hope the early childhood youth took away from last week. It is a lesson that could pay dividends for years to come.

For me, all the reward I needed was the smiles and hugs shared with me, heartwarming proof that this was time well spent.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at