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NCI staff reads to students to encourage love of books
Barry Dorsey (facing camera), executive director of the New College Institute in Martinsville, reads to kindergarten students at Patrick Henry Elementary School recently as part of NCI's "Reading for Life" program.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer
Parents, read to your children. You will help them learn and succeed in life.
That is the message the New College Institute (NCI) hoped to get across to area residents during its recent "Reading for Life" program.
Reading to children spurs their interest in learning how to read, and the better children can read, the better they will do in school and later in life, according to NCI Outreach Educator Steve Keyser.
For example, "you can't do math well if you can't read a (math) problem," said Barry Dorsey, executive director of the institute.
As part of "Reading for Life," institute staff and seven retired area teachers recently visited all Henry County-Martinsville schools - including the private Carlisle School near Axton - and read children's books to kindergartners.
"We all chose our own book to read" based on advice from school reading specialists and librarians, said NCI Associate Director Leanna Blevins.
The adults read to more than 800 students, Keyser said.
Each kindergartner received a copy of the book "Somewhere in the Ocean" by Jennifer Ward and T.J. Marsh. The book is about aquatic animals.
"The idea was to put a book into students' hands so when they went home, their parents would read to them," Keyser said.
Dorsey said he thinks many parents today - especially those in single-parent homes - have a hard time finding time to read to their children because they stay busy with their jobs and other responsibilities.
However, finding time once a week to read to your children for about 15 minutes "will make a big difference" in enticing them to learn to read and to read for themselves, Blevins said.
It also strengthens the bond between parents and their children, Dorsey said.
NCI staff recommends that parents who want to inspire their children to enjoy reading take their kids to a local library and help them find a book.
When they find a book they really like, they may want to read it over and over, Keyser said.
But "repetition is great" in acquiring literacy skills, he said.
Children who see their parents reading often develop a desire to read because they want to emulate their mom and dad, added Keyser.
Dorsey admitted it was a challenge "keeping students still and quiet" while he read to them.
Yet he encouraged them to have conversations with him. For instance, while reading a book about a cat, he asked students how many of them have cats at home, and they told him.
"I really admire the teachers who come (to school) every day" and teach children, said Dorsey, noting his career experience is in college education.
Based on comments from school employees, the kindergartners seemed to enjoy meeting new people and being able to interact with people other than teachers and principals they see most every day, Keyser said.