Perhaps there is nothing more important to education than an early foundation in reading - but it can be difficult to keep and hold the interest of young children. The solution? Make it interesting.
That's why Church of the Savior Lutheran, 522 N. Grier St., has started Reading Adventures, a free program for children in kindergarten through third grade that focuses on learning to read and reading comprehension.
Although the program allows plenty of time for the children to read on their own or be read to, it also makes use of several creative additions, from "book bingo" to read-along videos to pairing music with word association.
Volunteer Carol Breining, top, reads a book to children at a recent Reading Adventure at Church of the Savior, Lutheran, 522 N. Grier St. Volunteers, center, pictured from left are, Georgette Copp, Karen Horn, Sandy Grier, Carol Breining and Karen Morrison. Above right, Emmalee Horn relaxes with a book. The free program for children in kindergarten through third grade focuses on learning to read and reading comprehension.
"We wanted to do activities as well," said program coordinator Sandy Grier. "Activities can help with comprehension."
The program, which meets at the church from 10 a.m. to noon on the first and third Saturdays of the month, was formed late last year by volunteers from the church and the community, she said.
All of those who volunteer their time with the program are retired teachers or teachers aides, and they have a registered nurse volunteering as well, she said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Reading Adventures program for children in kindergarten through third grade
WHEN: 10 a.m.-noon on the first and third Saturdays of the month
WHERE: Church of the Savior Lutheran, 522 N. Grier St.
In addition to offering their own activities, the program will be working with the James V. Brown Library, offering library card forms at each meeting and taking the children to various library activities, especially during the summer, when the program will meet on weekdays, Grier said.
Working with the library offers even more activities and opportunities, including a unique "reading dogs" program.
Grier explained that reading dogs are therapy dogs that help children who are uncomfortable with reading aloud due to speech or comprehension problems. The children read to the dogs, who are trained to "quietly sit and listen," said Grier. That can help boost the child's self-esteem and comfort with reading aloud.
It's a program that the library offers several times a year, and one that Reading Adventures will be offering as well, Grier said.
The program also works closely with the Williamsport Area School District, whose reading specialists can refer children to the program if they feel it would be beneficial.
After determining a child's level of reading comprehension, instructors tailor the approach and activities to be the most helpful, Grier said.
"Our goal is to reinforce what the children are already learning in school," she said.
Parental involvement also is an important goal of the program and one that can have a positive, lasting effect on child development. A recent study from Purdue University shows that preschoolers who are read to at least once a day show better behavior and more positive social skills in the classroom than those who are not.
"We're also encouraging parents to read to their kids more," Grier said. She added that the group also is encouraging parents to take their children to the library more often.
To promote the idea of increased reading time, parents receive a form at each meeting with spaces for the child's name, the title of the book that they are reading and how many days they read.
Children also are encouraged to read by themselves for 15 minutes every day, Grier said. For every 15-minute period spent reading, a parent signs off on a separate form, and the children can earn prizes.
The group is limited to 20 children, Grier said, but a waiting list will be made available, if necessary. Interested parents or family members can contact the church at 570-326-7082 for a registration form.
Grier is very pleased with the program and what it offers.
"It's an exciting opportunity for children," she said.