Warm weather, books pair well

Day by Day: Warm weather, books pair well

By LIZ THOMPSON

May 21, 2018

This Week News

School books soon will be closed. With that last thud, summer draws us outdoors.

As our children swing the doors open, we need to remember they are our future — and we need to use every opportunity to help each one learn skills for life.

Reading is especially important — even in summer.

“Creating opportunities for summer learning sets the stage for innovation, creativity and leadership in every community,” says the National Summer Learning Association. “The young people we nurture today are the foundation of our society tomorrow.”

Ideas abound to get youngsters reading.

We can combine a nature walk through our parks and have children read the signs.

They can read cereal boxes.

We can take them shopping and have them find things to read in the grocery store.

It will be worth the time, with far-reaching effects.

Let’s give our youths access to books, newspapers and magazines.

Physical activity is vital to our health, but if we know how to read, it stays with us always.

The Columbus (Ohio) Metropolitan Library website says, “Studies show that kids who read during the summer maintain reading skills that are critical to future school success.”

We have no shortage of books.

The system has 22 branches, plus the main library, and is a part of the Central Library Consortium, with 17 partner locations. Add Westerville’s library and we have many locations in our area to find a book for free.

The Columbus library kicks off the Summer Reading Challenge from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 2 at the main library. The program runs until Aug. 4, with opportunities for readers of all ages to track their progress and earn prizes.

“It is critically important that children always have access to books and reading, whether in school or out, and that parents understand they are their child’s first teachers,” said Ben Zenitsky, marketing and communications specialist for the library system.

Kelly Wegley, coordinator of academic achievement and professional development for Worthington Schools, agreed, saying, “Reading is important for life. Reading over the summer, even as few as four to six books, has the potential to make a difference in preventing the summer slide.”

Not every child has these choices, so libraries have established outreach programs and some work with schools.

“We go to select areas, day cares and preschools where children may not have ready access to books,” said Lindsey Smith, outreach with Worthington Libraries. That library system’s summer-reading program runs from May 29 to July 29.

“Our help center transitions to the summer-reading program to prevent the slide,” Smith said. “We have tons of programs and prizes. Every child who completes the program is entered into a raffle to win a bicycle and everyone who finishes gets a prize.”

Upper Arlington has a Summer Library Club for all ages from May 21 to July 31. Patrons can track their reading time, and after 10 hours of reading and 10 activities, such as visiting a park or a library program, they will receive a coupon prize package.

When readers complete 20 hours of the same, they can earn a free book and are entered into a drawing for a grand prize for each age group.

“We have poolside story time on Fridays in June and July,” said Christine Minx, the library’s marketing and community relations manager. “Kids can include the time they spend listening to stories on their reading log.”

Jenni Chatlos of Upper Arlington said her family looks forward to participating in the Summer Library Club each year.

“It gives us a goal to reach,” she said. “It’s a fun way to keep all of us reading over the summer. Then the kids are better prepared for school in the fall.”

Her son, Nate, 6, said, “I like the program because you get to read any book you want. The more you read, the bigger and better prize you get.”

Open the pages of a book this summer and see the world through words.

For more information, visit columbuslibrary.org, worthingtonlibraries.org or ualibrary.org, or check out your local library.

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Early reading skills generate lifetime value

Day by day
Early reading skills generate lifetime value
By LIZ THOMPSON
Tuesday September 9, 2014
This Week News

When I took my daughter for her first day of kindergarten, I was a puddle of tears as I walked out of the school. She had breezed into the classroom and never looked back.

Thirty-five years have passed and I still get goose bumps remembering.

I shouldn’t have been surprised she took on the new situation so easily. Out of necessity, I had to work outside the home since she was about 2 and had placed her either in day care or with a trusted sitter/friend. My crying because I was leaving her in the care of others was nothing new.

By the end of that kindergarten year, the teacher told me she wished she’d had Mary two more weeks because she would have had her reading. She was a caring and dedicated teacher. As her mother, again I was not surprised but was infinitely happy. Reading was part of our lives from her early days.

My sister, Cynthia Slocum, of Westerville is six years younger than me, and my mom said I taught her to read. I don’t remember this but I believe my mom.

The fact my sister went on to be an attorney has nothing to do with my teaching her, which was probably more like coaching and encouraging, but it proves that reading is essential in many aspects of our lives.

Cynthia remembers. It obviously made an impression on her.

“I do remember the exact moment at the library when you were explaining words to me as we were looking at a book, and suddenly it all made sense, as if someone unlocked a magical world,” Cynthia said. “I think it may have even been a Dick and Jane book.”

Teachers say they can see the exact moment when students make that connection to something they were teaching, like a light bulb goes on — the great “Aha!” moment.

I don’t remember learning to read, and I can’t remember a time I didn’t read. The library was a favorite place for me and librarians were always near for assistance.

I was apparently like my daughter and gained that skill young, for which I’m thankful. Cynthia was obviously amenable to learning as well, even from her big sis.

While remembering my daughter’s first day of school as if it were yesterday, I started thinking of teachers who inspired me. As a youth, teachers of various subjects and music instructors filled much of my life.

Elementary school teachers stressed reading daily, and story time was a favorite throughout those years. In middle and high school, besides music, English was a favorite for me with our required reading and book reports. This was before computers to research facts and type papers, mind you.

Reading for pleasure became more possible when my daughter was older, when I had more time. I picked up a newspaper one night when Mary was about 8.

“Mommy, women don’t read the newspaper!” she said.

“Well, Mary, women most certainly do read the newspaper, but usually after all her housework is done,” I replied.

Right then, I started reading in her presence.

With so much press about Common Core and the third-grade reading tests, I began to wonder how hundreds of students reached third grade without someone noticing they weren’t reading, or reading well enough to pass a reading test.

Jane Mixer of Grove City was an elementary school teacher for 24 years in Ohio and Virginia. She taught kindergarten the longest, but also taught grades 1-3.

“Some children are not ready for first grade,” she said. “They may not have matured enough to be able to sit still and follow directions. They’d rather be playing. But having to tell parents their child would benefit from another year of kindergarten was never easy.”

She went on to say that retaining a child in kindergarten is definitely easier than in later grades.

“Reading is so important. It’s individualized. But if a child gets as far as third grade and they can’t read well enough to pass a test, there is a problem,” Mixer said.

“There are no easy answers, but it is the responsibility of the parents and the teachers.”

She said if she taught her students anything, she hopes it was to enjoy learning and being in school while feeling accomplished.

Read with a child. It’s fun and the reward will be great and long-lasting for you both. As my sister said, “It unlocks a magical world.”

Slow down and enjoy life’s read

Day by day

Slow down and enjoy life’s read

By LIZ THOMPSON
Wednesday June 18, 2014

What page are you on?

I can tell how much I’m enjoying a book when I don’t want it to end. Slowing down only delays the inevitable; the last page, the final word. Next I’ll be searching for the sequel or another book by this author.

Some people struggle to read and find it hard to study and learn; it can be a real problem to overcome.

But I’m also talking about those who can read fine but don’t want the task. They stop and look to see how many pages they have to read, bemoaning the fact they aren’t close to being finished — wasting time being frustrated instead of enjoying the read. The end will come soon enough.

We do that same thing when we check our watch every few minutes or wish our days away, when we spend time worrying or wanting a bad day to end. We’d be better off by making the most of the moment.

Maybe it’s a human condition where we push forward, in essence, to simply get all the pages turned and the book finished.

As a teen, a reading test showed I was a fast reader, yet my comprehension lagged. Reading fast has served me well in some respects, but proved detrimental when typing what I was reading. By reading so fast, I often skipped entire lines. The same proved true when playing the piano while reading the music.

In time, I learned to pace myself for accuracy in typing and playing music. As a result, my comprehension improved and I enjoyed more what I was reading or playing.

Our personal life is a unique book, one I believe is written by God. Not one book, or life, is identical. That’s remarkable. We need to listen and watch thoughtfully as each page is turned, knowing the end will eventually happen.

In May, we were camping in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. On our campsite, we had a screened room but we kept the front open during the day.

A yellow butterfly was darting frantically in this room, seeking an exit. I tried to help it out with my hands and hoped it would alight on my cane when upheld, to no avail. It was almost painful to watch as it hit the top and sides, coming so close to the exit and starting its mad path over again.

Finally, it escaped. We sighed with relief. Two days later it happened again, and I was able to use my hands to ease it to freedom. The flutter of its wings was both a thrill and a warning.

I found my heart rate was up after it flew away, and it reminded me how we sometimes spend a lot of time flying around seeking freedom, often refusing help. We see children acting much like the butterfly until they realize accepting help and guidance is good.

Life lessons are a gift.

I’m reminded of the final page analogy when someone dies and I attend the funeral, memorial service or wake. In April and May, I attended four such events, although in the same time frame six people I knew left this life: three friends, a brother-in-law, a neighbor who was also a friend, and the pastor who performed our wedding ceremony many years ago.

In retrospect, we think of these lives and their legacy.

I believe it’s unhealthy to compare ourselves to others. That would be like saying all the best books, poems and the like have been written. Why should we try to write anything?

I refer to other writers who inspire me; I don’t stop writing, thinking it doesn’t measure up, although I often choose to toss writings or completely rework them.

So with our lives. We spend time reworking ourselves and tossing out the garbage, so to speak. That’s a good choice.

When I attend memorial services, I try not to compare my life to theirs but I take inspiration from them. Those who volunteered — I might support these causes. Those who had great humor — I might catch myself when I grumble. And those who were humble — I’m reminded to check my ego at the door.

The list goes on.

When I fail to do what is good and true, I look to change that, often thinking of those who were positive influences on me.

Life moves fast enough; no need to push ahead. Turn your life pages slowly and enjoy the read.