Storytime event to encourage love of reading
Retired educator Gail Stelter said there’s nothing better you can do for your children than to read to them. Fifteen minutes a night is all it takes to plant the seeds of literacy, which pays off throughout life.
“The research behind it is – it’s cliche, but it’s true –children who read, think. Children who think do well in the world,” said Stelter, who is part of the local Haliburton Lions Club and is organizing Stories in the Park on Saturday, July 8, the same day and location as Dysart’s 150th celebrations.
As part of the Lions’ mandate of encouraging reading, the Haliburton club is planning a special event that will include children’s authors, storytelling, information for parents and free books for kids.
The day starts at 10 a.m. in the Lions “Stories in the Park” tent, which will be set up with comfy cushions for families to sit on as they listen to guests read their favourite stories in sessions throughout the day. After the session, the children will be given a book to take home. In addition, special materials created by Jim Trelease, author of the acclaimed Read-Aloud Handbook, will be distributed to parents.
Additionally, there will be two children’s authors on-site to read to the kids at the “Children’s Authors” tent. The first is Carolyn Mills, who has just released her book The Little Boy Who Lives Down the Drain, about a little girl who loves taking baths because she can talk to the little boy in the drain. Mills is the daughter-in-law of local Lions Betty and David Mills. She will be reading from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Then at noon, Stella Grasso will be reading from her book Five Busy Beavers, which is a rhyming book about a crew of animals working together. Each one gets called away to play with friends until there is just one beaver left. Grasso is a Halls Lake cottager and her book, along with Mills’s book, will be given away to kids.
The Lions Club has some of its own money going toward the event and some from Haliburton County Development Corporation, which gave the group $2,000.
Putting books in the hands of children is one of the best ways of encouraging them to read, Stelter said.
“Kids should be exposed to books before they can roll over [in their crib],” she said. Stelter has a master’s degree in education, specializing in curriculum. She worked as a principal at St. Bernadette Elementary School in Oakville and Holy Cross Elementary School in Georgetown and taught with the faculty of education at York University for three years. She was a curriculum consultant at the Halton District School Board for four years.
“We are losing the love of reading among young children because they’re on their iPads,” she said, adding there’s nothing wrong with using technology, but the amount of screentime was getting out of balance.
Research shows that the more books children have access to at home, the more likely they will be better readers.
The Lions Club has been striving to get more books into more little hands across the county. In the last two years, their Reading Action Program gave new books away to students at Cardiff and Wilberforce elementary schools and through Point in Time.
In addition to those efforts, the Lions are also starting up a Little Free Library in West Guilford. Little Free Libraries are special boxes placed in communities that operate on the honour system. They allow people to take books out of the weather-proof boxes and ask that they be returned at a later date.
On July 8, along with the other events, the Lions will be showing off their new Little Free Library before it is installed in West Guilford. It will be stocked with 25 books and a logbook, where people can sign out books.
“The essence of the Little Free Library is to put books in the hands of children primarily, though we will put some adult books in there too,” Stelter said. This will allow people in the West Guilford area to stop by and grab a book to read without having to drive to Haliburton.