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Don’t close the book on summer

Don’t close the book on summer
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Members of the Leominster Community Coalition have been bringing the StoryMobile to preschool children in Leominster since 2012 and are thrilled to be able to continue this summer.

“The purpose of this program is to emphasize the importance of reading,” says Barbara Abraham, chair of the Leominster Community Coalition, “and to bring out the joy of reading — even during the summer months.”

At each event, a story is read to the children by members of the coalition and volunteers, and books are given to all children in attendance.

“The school-year program is aimed to reach preschool children, but during the summer months, children ages 3 to 6 are welcome to join us,” says Barbara.

In addition to reading stories and distributing books, craft activities are offered at some locations, all at no cost.

“This literacy program is made possible because of the thoughtfulness of Leominster Credit Union’s staff for selecting us as a recipient of their annual book drive,” Barbara says.

Coalition members would also like to thank residents who donated gently used books. Funding is also available because of grants and benefit events.

“Reading to children should not stop when the school year ends,” Barbara says, “and I feel that it is vitally important to a child’s development to have books as an important part of a child’s life.”

Barbara said that “by listening to a story being read out loud, the child is hearing the basic sounds that form our language.

“Early reading to children has been connected to a better grasp of the fundamentals of language as they approach school age,” she adds.

Also, as a child approaches a stressful situation — like going to the doctor, the first day of school or participating in a sport — reading a story about a similar experience may help to ease the stress.

“I believe that along with reading knowledge comes a stronger sense of self-discipline, a longer attention span — children will sit still for the entire story — and they will build a strong memory,” she says.

Children who have been exposed to reading learn that it’s fun, and they may then choose a book over television or video games.

How do the benefits of early literacy carry through a child’s life?

“Reading opens the door to a child’s early academic success, imparts a love of learning, and leads to higher grades in every subject,” Barbara says. “When children learn to read at an early age, they have greater general knowledge, expand their vocabulary and become more fluent readers. Early readers can recognize a larger number of words by sight, which enables them to learn more from and about their environment.”

Reading also sparks curiosity, and satisfies that curiosity by providing explanations of how things work.

“Early readers have the opportunity to relate to their peers on a more confident, more competent level,” Barbara says, “and such experiences increase the child’s social status among peers as well as his or her self-image and self-confidence.”

With the StoryMobile program, children will be eligible to get their own library card and have access to a vast selection of books at Leominster Public Library, at 30 West St.

“Parents will also have the opportunity to visit the Parent Resource Center at the Leominster Public Library to find valuable information on parenting skills and other topics on child-rearing,” Barbara says.

The StoryMobile is an activity in the Leominster Community Coalition’s “No Place for Hate” campaign.

“The children will learn about children from other countries, of other races and generations,” Barbara says proudly. “They will learn to treat all people with respect and dignity. No Place for Hate is a very important component to our program.”

No Place for Hate was created by the Anti-Defamation League to provide communities with a framework for fighting all forms of hatred and bigotry, while promoting respect for diversity, and for all groups and individuals.

To date, the StoryMobile has the following dates and locations scheduled: July 12 at Silver Leaf Apartments; July 26 at Leominster Recreation Department’s Pre-School program at Fallbrook School; Aug. 7 at Scharmett Park (open to the public); and Aug. 22 at Water Mill Apartments. There are no firm dates set yet for Adventure Kids, Bennett School and Priest Street School’s Kindergarten Orientation, but they will be scheduled.

“This program brings great satisfaction to the coalition members,” Barbara says with a smile. “When we see the happiness and delight on the faces of the children when they are told that they may select a book to be their own — especially knowing that some have never had a book of their own — we know that we are providing a needed program for the children in the Leominster community.”

For more information on dates and times for the StoryMobile, call Lisa Novelli at Project Apples, 978-534-3038.

Got a column subject or item for Community Conversations? Email ccuddahy@sentinelandenterprise.com. Read her blog at blogs sentinelandenterprise.com/communityconversations.



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