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Increased reading activity is one for the book

Julie Severn

11/27/2002 12:00:00 AM

Put the heat to frosty winter temperatures without an increased fuel bill or the expense of traveling south-grab a blanket and curl up with a book.

Many modern cultural rituals revolve around the television, video games, cell phones and the computer screen, all of which attribute the declining interest in reading.

"Exposure to good grammar through reading stretches a child's imagination and attention span," explained Mary Barker, Saginaw Chippewa Academy library media specialist. "Reading also provides new information, enriches vocabulary and improves listening comprehension."

Positive reinforcement from parents and teachers can help quench the thirst for knowledge through a good book, Barker also said.

"The most important thing parents can do is read to their child everyday at the same time," she explained. "Not only do children enjoy spending quality family time, but they also become accustomed to the stabilized educational routine. It can be very beneficial to do this during quiet time, before a nap or bed time."

Barker said children are never too young to be read to. Acquainting them with books at a young age will instill an undying love for reading, even if they turn to computers and video games at an older age.

"Be sure to provide a variety of reading material and take your children to the library," she offered. "Any kind of reading is helpful-there's something out there for everyone. Buy or check out books that are at the child's interest level and they'll eat it up."

Books and authors that currently interest students at the SCA include the Magic Tree series, Juney B. Jones, Judy Bloom and Beverly Clearly books.

"A lot of the old classics are still very popular," Barker added. "Clifford the Big Red Dog is a favorite among the younger students. There are all kinds of books, games and stuffed animals available that take reading to another level and help bring characters to life."

Students participate in an accelerated reading program and are awarded points for tests taken based on the length and skill level of each book. Barker said points are accumulated and students are awarded pins for each level they complete.

"It's been really motivational and the kids love it," she said.

Reading material makes for great gift-giving ideas any day of the year, but with the holidays just around the corner books may provide educational stocking stuffers, as well as become a memento of the special occasion.

"Any kind of reading is helpful," Barker said. "Magazines are wonderful, current and up-to-date on the popular things going on. There are all sorts of specialty material covering topics on any child's interest. Start reading together-it's a wonderful way to pass time and share something special."