St. Johns offers programs to encourage childhood reading

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By Meghan Callan
Clinton County Chatter Staff Reporter

ST. JOHNS — Reading can be an imaginative activity for children by opening doors to new ways of language and communication.

The town of St. Johns has programs that encourage children to read and develop literacy skills to improve their success in school and work.

Briggs Public Library, located in downtown St. Johns, hosts numerous programs each week to try and get the community involved in this literacy movement.

Librarian at Briggs Public Library Brett Harger believes that encouraging children to read starting at a young age will tremendously improve their ability to learn and develop social skills that will bring academic success as they get older.

“Technology surrounds children in this decade, there are fancy electronic toys, iPads, new television shows, which are all a distraction from kids reading books for fun,” said Harger.

Harger believes that parents play a huge role in encouraging their children to step away from the electronics and read a book.

“The programs we have here at the library each week are a perfect way for parents to show their children that reading is an essential skill and we try to make each activity as light and enjoyable as possible,” said Harger.

According to Harger, Briggs Public Library hosts a free program called Library Storytime, which has various sessions for different age groups. The sessions are available from children who are 12 months old extending to family sessions that are offered for all ages.

St. Johns resident Emerald Fulton brings her one-year-old child to these Storytime sessions.

“I try to attend a session once a month, since my daughter is so young I go to the lapsit session where she just sits on my lap as we listen to a story read out loud. I also love reading to her at night, I can’t wait for the day she will want to read her favorite books to me,” said Fulton.

Fulton believes that as her daughter gets older attending these sessions and reading every night, will help her child get an early start in developing literacy skills.

In addition according to Harger, Briggs Public Library offers a new program called the Parent/Child Book Club. The program is available for children in grades 4-8 with a participating adult.

“Reading with your child is very important and that’s why we recently added this program over the summer. It opens lines of communication between the parent and child and encourages the child to read if they see how important it is to their parent,” said Harger.

Linda Campbell, expert in education at Antioch University Seattle, agrees with Harger that children need a role model to encourage reading.

“If children get off to a poor start in reading, they rarely catch up. Home environments should be print-rich to help familiarize children with the language,” said Campbell.

In addition Campbell believes teachers in the classrooms of these young children also have a critical role in helping students develop literacy skills.

“Teachers need to increase the amount of language a child hears and uses. They can conduct read alouds, play books on tape, and provide oral activities to increase students exposure to vocabulary and common figures of speech,” said Campbell.

According to Curriculum Coordinator of St. Johns Public Schools Jason Gnegy teachers of the district always implement reading activities into their curriculum.

“Teachers at the elementary level are required to contain a reading portion into the english section of their curriculum. At the kindergarden through second grade levels teachers specifically focus in on making sure those students develop reading skills so students do not fall behind,” said Gnegy.

“Children need to have a role model in their life whether it be a parental guardian or a teacher, to help guide them into reading. I believe through this library we have provided programs that have had a positive impact on helping these children gain and enjoy these skills,” said Harger.

In addition Harger said Briggs Public Library has a holiday program on Dec. 3, 4 and 5, that will include reading activities, crafts, refreshments and a visit from Santa. Details for the event can be found on Briggs Public Library’s main website.

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