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Literacy for Life: Instilling a love of reading

Teri Vance
tvance@nevadaappeal.com
Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal
ALL |

This is the fourth in a six-week Literacy for Life series aimed at bringing attention to the importance of literacy in the community.

Holding the book open so the children can see the pictures, Rachel March reads aloud from Kevin Henkes’ “My Garden.”

She brings to life the story of a young girl working with her mother in a garden, then plants the seeds of her own, where “Tomatoes will be as big as beach balls, and carrots will be invisible, because I don’t like carrots.”

While some of the toddlers at Carson City Library’s story time get up to wander and play, 3-year-old Isabel Wright is enraptured.

She smiles as March reads about a garden that grows jelly beans, buttons, umbrellas and rusty old keys.

She laughs out loud when she hears “strawberries would glow like lanterns,” and she repeats the phrase to herself and laughs again.

Isabel’s mother often reads to her at home and brings her regularly to listen to stories at the library. Her grandmother, Romana Paynter, takes her to the library’s story hour when she comes to visit from Washington.

“We read together all the time,” Paynter said. “She loves to read, and the library offers an opportunity to learn that’s different than at home with her mom.”

Youth Services Librarian Amber Sady said the twice-weekly story time serves an important purpose for children developmentally.

“It’s so important to introduce children to books at a young age so they develop that love of literacy really early,” she said. “It helps build those brain connections, and by developing that early, it sets them up for learning the rest of their lives.”

Although March works in the adult section of the library, she often reads during story time just because she enjoys it.

And by mixing games and songs in with the stories, she tries to make it enjoyable for the kids as well.

“I try to choose books with repetitious words, maybe rhyming words,” she said. “It gets their little brains going. It really does help them learn to read when they have someone read to them.”

That’s why Tammy Thornton tries to bring her 20-month-old daughter Ellie every week.

“I love to read, and it’s important to give them a love of reading,” she said. “You have to read for everything so you want them to enjoy it.”

Reading with a child offers more than only intellectual growth, however.

“It’s also such a sweet time for them to spend with their parents,” Sady said.