Pointing out West Virginia ranks 48th in the nation for public library funding, Mary Kay Bond, state director of Read Aloud WV (RAWV), spoke to Lewisburg Rotarians about strategies in play to encourage raising our children to be readers.
Bond says, “We need volunteer readers, public education, classroom enrichment and book distribution.” This is to offset a never ending growing level off illiteracy in our state. She used an example of how two of our states most recognizable logos (WVU and MU) have been marketed successfully as we raise our children and we need to promote reading with the same level of excitement as we do sports projects. The same methods for selling sports can be used for selling an interest and need to be readers.
If you want to raise an athlete, you start early, provide access, model good skills and keep the excitement alive. This is how we can raise readers and we are not doing it well enough in West Virginia. The read aloud program is working in communities throughout the state to change this.
We need to begin reading to our children early in life. Bond explained, “Let your baby hold and play with books. Talk and sing to your baby.” Make books visible in the home and car. Give books and magazines as gifts. Volunteer at your local library as a reader to community children.
She explained a true story of an acquaintance’s two year old expressing “having a predicament” on the way into a Target store. The child needed to decide whether to have her hand held while she walked around or if she wanted to be seated in the cart. The point is the use of the vocabulary word “predicament” came from the child having been read to regularly. The two year old knew the meaning of a word simply by having heard it used in literature.
Reading skill level is directly correlated to levels of success and failure in important areas of life. Facts include while reading for WV eighth graders improved slightly between 2009 and 2011, they are lower than eighth grade scores in 45 states. Our boys score 13 points lower than girls and this is the third largest gap in the nation.
For more valuable information about getting involved and making a difference visit www.readaloudwestvirginia.org or call 304-345-5212.