5/30/15

JUST READ by Jon Walker

Were you a born reader?  I was not.  Dick and Jane did little to spark my interest in reading as a youngster and, yet, now I direct an institution that promotes reading and literacy among its key values.  What changed?  How did I transform from reluctant reader to librarian?

Comics is how it began for me.  Perhaps this is surprising.  I was first captivated by the colorful and imaginative illustrations in comic books as a young child even before I could read at all.  My older brother is seven years my senior, and he had collected a fascinating comic collection by the time I was a tyke.  A bit later, I also discovered the comic strips in my family’s daily newspaper. 

Before I could read as a toddler, I poured over the pictures on the pages and invented stories I believed matched the sequences of drawings.  In the end, however, conjuring my own plotline was not completely satisfying.  My curiosity to understand the author’s intended narrative motivated in me a desire to know more.  This is all it took and, importantly, this also is what it took to spur my aspirations to read.  Honestly, school reading assignments had little interest for me.  My drive to read started with a craving to better comprehend the comics I loved.    

Parents should keep this in mind when working to encourage children to read.  Reading is fundamentally important.  Studies show that learning and practicing this skill in youth correlates to a higher quality of life later in adulthood.  Plainly stated, the better you read, the more apt you are to succeed. 

It can be difficult to compel children to read outside the framework of their own personal interests.  Seek opportunities instead to engage young people on their own terms.  Look for reading that arouses their imagination and fulfills their innate spirit of inquiry.  Assigned reading in school is important, but also search for reading options that satisfy each child’s individual tastes and interests.  Connect to this impulse and the child will benefit greatly.  Evidence shows that generally those who are better readers are those who want to read and who read more. 

The library district offers help for this.  One example is the library’s summer reading club.  It starts this month and runs until August.  It is designed especially to provide programming, events and activities to promote reading for fun.  Our goal is simple.  We aim to keep kids reading all summer long.  We do not focus on assigned reading.  Read whatever motivates.  Just read! 

LOCAL HISTORY AT THE LIBRARY by Jon Walker

Our community enjoys a rich and diverse history.  This is the story of the people and events helping to shape the saga of this region over ...