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Summer Read Learn Succeed program aims to launch kids on a joy of reading
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Dr. Curtis Malcom, physician at The Longstreet Clinic, amuses families with his acrobatic juggling and unicycling act Saturday at the second annual Read Learn Succeed summer reading program kickoff held by United Way and the Hall County Library System. - photo by Alexander Popp

Read Learn Succeed

To learn more, visit the Hall County Library website, www.hallcountylibrary.org.

Reading is one of the first skills we teach our children, and in one form or another, part of how we communicate and make decisions.

But beyond the big reading milestones that most people accomplish in pre-K and kindergarten, there really isn’t any generally accepted time where parents need to start reading to their children.

Ruth Demby, program coordinator at United Way of Hall County, said the time to start reading is at birth.

“Some parents might say, ‘Why would I read to a baby?’” Demby said. “But what research is showing, for the brain, for neural pathways to develop, they need to hear the spoken word.”

Saturday, the United Way of Hall County and the Hall County Library System held the second annual Read Learn Succeed summer reading program kickoff to spread awareness of good reading habits and sign kids up for the summer reading program.

For the summer reading program, the Hall County Library System has partnered with local businesses like INK, Chick-fil-A and Texas Roadhouse to urge kids to keep reading between school semesters.

The majority of people who attended Saturday’s event were there to sign up for the summer reading program. Others took time to learn about general health habits from The Longstreet Clinic’s Dr. Curtis Malcom, or read with some of the United Way volunteers.

The United Way implemented the Read Learn Succeed Program to combat increasing numbers of children entering pre-K behind their peers in terms of reading cognition skills.

“Sadly there are some children who get to kindergarten, and have never held a book before,” Demby said. “Kids who don’t have these experiences are getting to kindergarten, so far behind that only a small portion ever catch up.”

She explained that this lack can stem from parents misunderstanding how early the learning process begins, and how crucial it is to a child’s development.

Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy first-grade teacher Amy Anderson said it’s easy to pick out children who have been reading from a young age. Anderson said they respond better to difficult texts, and are already used to discussing unknown material.

“When you don’t present a child from birth with books, and don’t read to them aloud. Then they come into school behind other children,” Anderson said.

She says she sees more and more children turning to video games and TV rather than picking up a book or playing outside, missing out a critical part of learning that is tied to reading.

Research done by United Way shows the majority of brain development happens in the first two to three years of life. It is in this period children form their first impressions of reading and interacting with the world.

One of the main goals behind the Read Learn Succeed program is to push parents beyond simply reading, and have them engage with their children during daily activities.

“We are encouraging parents to realize that children are born learning, are born inquisitive. So when you are just going about your daily activities, to take the time to talk interactively,” Demby said.

Both Demby and Anderson agree involving children in routine activities like shopping, laundry and cooking can have a big impact on their cognitive development.

To find out more about the free Read Learn Succeed summer reading program, visit the Hall County Library online at www.hallcountylibrary.org.

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