Authors in Schools are Getting Winston Salem Kids Excited about Reading!

By Jeanna B. White

“Hello, how are you? May I PLEASE have a cat? — A tiger’s your reward for asking like THAT,” read Author, Kyle Webster, to the gasps and giggles of 90 delighted first graders at Moore Magnet Elementary School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Webster was reading his book, “Please Say Please!” to the students as part of the Authors in Schools program presented by Bookmarks, a Winston-Salem-based literary arts non-profit that fosters a love of reading and writing in the community.

At the end of Webster’s presentation, each student took home an autographed hardcover copy of the colorful picture book, and the school’s library received $1000 worth of award-winning and diverse fiction and non-fiction picture books that also included bilingual titles.

According to Literacy Company statistics, more than 20% of adults read at or below a fifth-grade level, far below the level needed to earn a living in today’s society. Forty-eight percent of young children in the U.S. are not read to daily. More than 13 million children under the age of 5 go to bed without a bedtime story. Bookmarks hopes to improve these statistics by bringing more authors into schools and by inspiring students to read and write.

Bookmarks provides these visits by local, regional, and nationally-known authors, illustrators, and storytellers at no cost to the schools. The program has reached 40,000 students since 2010 and has grown from 1,000 students per year to 9100 in 2017. This outreach is funded through donations and grants from individuals and other organizations with a passion for literacy.

Webster’s visit to Moore and four other Title 1 elementary schools was funded by a $25,000 grant from the Mebane Charitable Foundation, based in Mocksville, NC. The grant provided books for the 500 students who participated in the reading as well as more than 60 books each for the library collections. These students will also receive a visit from Stacy McAnulty and a copy of her book, “Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years,” later this year.

“I know what a difference it makes to have an author come into a classroom and to feel a book, touch a book and be able to ask questions of the author,” said Ginger Hendricks, Bookmarks executive director. “I still remember visits authors made to my classes in school.”

It’s great to be able to say that we served 9,000 students last year, but what the Mebane Foundation is allowing us to do is two visits with the same children this spring while also placing new books in the school libraries,” Hendricks said. “It excites us to be able to build on these students’ experiences. In addition, the grant allows us to give the children a hardcover book by the visiting author. Each book has a plate for the student to write his or her name. For many, this will be the first book they will own.”

Bookmarks’ Authors in Schools program fits in well with the Mebane Foundation’s mission of preparing children for life through literacy.

“One of the experiences I remember most vividly from my early years in elementary school was the opportunity to buy books at our school book fairs, and then the anticipation of waiting for them to arrive,” said Larry Colbourne, president of the Mebane Foundation. “If the Mebane Foundation can create that same love and anticipation for books and reading that I had as a child, we’ll have met our mission. Bookmarks has been a fantastic partner!”

When visiting authors interact with students, they answer questions about writing, the process of creating a book, their writing life, how to get ideas and write them on paper, and the importance of reading in their lives. These experts in the field of writing serve as role models and offer children goals for them to aspire to.

An accomplished illustrator who has drawn for The New Yorker, The New York Times, NPR, TIME, and hundreds of other distinguished editorial, advertising, publishing and institutional clients, Webster explained the illustrating process by showing the students how to draw the little girl in his book, or any other drawing, using circles, triangles, and rectangles.

He encouraged the students to try writing and drawing on their own, saying, ”No one is born with talent. Talent means that a person spent a lot of time doing what they loved and got really good at it. If you keep doing something, you will get good at it, and people will say you have talent.”

Webster was all smiles after answering questions from students and passing out the books. “I have so much fun doing this,” he said. “I just want to leave a positive impression. Even if just a few walk away and think ‘I can do that’ then it was well worth it.”

“Writing this book has definitely been the most enjoyable project I’ve worked on, and it has been the most satisfying because I continue to get to visit schools, read, and connect with these kids,” he continued. “None of the other work I’ve done has had that type of reward. Getting to put my book in each student’s hands and make that connection is a really great feeling.”

“Students need a purpose to read,” said Adam Dovico, Moore’s principal. “If that purpose is ‘Hey, I know the guy who wrote this,’ I’ll take that as a victory. Reluctant readers need that hook or buy in. Meeting the author presents a very good reason to want to read. As the kids were walking up the hall a few minutes ago, half of them had their books open looking at them.

Rachel Kuhn Stinehelfer, education and program specialist for Bookmarks, was thrilled to hear that and said, “One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to see children excited about books. Teachers and media coordinators share the success of these author visits with us — stating that the children check out more books from the library written by visiting authors and are more excited about reading after an author visit. We have also seen our participation triple from 2009 to 2017 in our Young Readers Central area at our Festival which further shows us that we are reaching and inspiring students to read and write.”

“By getting our youngest citizens involved in the literary community at an early age,” Hendricks said, “they will hopefully stay involved and continue reading throughout their lives.”

Bookmarks began as a book festival in 2004 as a project of the Winston-Salem Junior League. Over the years, the organization has evolved into the largest annual book festival in the Carolinas and has added programs including Authors in Schools and a summer reading program. In its 13 years in existence, Bookmarks has brought more than 750 authors, illustrators, and storytellers to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Last July, Bookmarks opened a nonprofit independent bookstore and gathering space at 634 W. Fourth St. For more information, visit www.bookmarksnc.org.

Awesome Summer Activities and Reading Programs for Students at Davie Library

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by Jeanna White

As school ends and summer begins, thoughts go to trips to the beach, splashing in the pool, or a little rest and relaxation.

But summer is also a perfect time to boost your child’s developing literacy skills and  love of learning. Studies show that reading just 4-5 books during the summer can prevent a decline in a child’s fall reading scores.

The Davie County Public Library has a number of fun, educational, age-appropriate summer programs that encourage kids to keep reading even when school’s out. And best of all, they are free!

child-readingBuild a Better World
According to Youth Services Librarian Julie Whittaker, better known as Miss Julie to Pre-K and elementary school students across the county, the Davie County Public Library is ready to welcome youth for the Summer Reading Program of 2017, “Build a Better World.”

“We have 8 weeks of events and programs to engage people of all ages in activities that keep academic skills sharp, foster a “Better World” and prevent boredom during the summer months,” she said.

Sign-up for the “Build a Better World” reading incentive program begins on June 19th and is ongoing through August 7th. The purpose of incentive programs is to encourage reading everyday/regularly throughout the summer. Participants choose between two programs; the easy timed reading Build a Better World Easy or the Build a Better World Challenge with activities. Age is not a consideration; rather the reader’s ability and desire determine which program is best for each individual. The Easy Record is based on reading / listening to at least 15 minutes of literature each day, enter the number of minutes read on the sheet. Prizes are based on reading or attending a program each day of the week earning small prizes and free books when goals are met. Build a Better World Challenge involves completing four tasks and recording the number of minutes read each day, then returning the reading record to collect noted prizes. As a guide, 40 min a day, 5 days a week over 8 weeks equals 1,600. Opportunities to earn 2 free books are available.

Programs Available Daily – Some Require Pre-Registration
There are different programs almost every day of the week, but some require advanced sign-up.  The following list of activities can be found at www.daviecountync.gov/400/Public-library. Those requiring advanced registration are highlighted below. Please download a printable calendar of events.

Mondays
6:30 pm– all programs are available to the public regardless of SRP registration. Consult DCPL’s web-calendar for program specific details.

M 6/26 & 7/24 only 2-5:00 pm – Teens Paint the Wall for Middle and High School artists or interested in art, see Tuesdays for description.

Tuesdays
10:30 am:  Elementary Build It: Planned for elementary students; participants will consult books on the day’s Build It Activity and then build. 2 MAD Science Workshops are scheduled with limited seating, patrons must register to participate in these free workshops for elementary aged youth, and registration opens for these events on M, 6/19 for 6/27 and 7/17 for 8/1. All others open with free general admission.

2-5:00 pm: Teens Paint the Wall: For Middle and High School teens who would like to use their creativity and artistic talents to help paint 2 wall scenes in the Multi-Purpose Room. Mentored by volunteer Bruce White of Wild Mountain Designs & Art. (4th Tuesdays are Blood Drive, so this activity will be offered on M 6/26 & 7/24) Also available on Thursdays from 10am -12 pm. 

Wednesdays
11 am Munchin’ at the Movies-rated PG usually less than 2 hours.    

1 pm Snackin’ at the Cinema-rated PG & PG 13 usually 2 hours. 

Participants are welcome to bring lunch or snacks, blankets & pillows; the library will  provide a big screen showing of a recent release or theme related film, floor space, chairs and trash cans.  Parents are responsible for deciding if movie content / ratings are appropriate for their family, and can check on www.commonsensemedia.org.  A movie list  is available on the DCPL’s calendar.

Thursdays
10am-12pm- Teens Paint the Wall

Reading & Code Clubs Brochures / flyers with specifics and registration are available at DCPL and on the library  website. Please note these bulleted programs are not ‘drop-in’, as participants prepare in advance to read or discuss the selected book and equipment and space is limited. Register at DCPL’s Youth Services Desk or email jwhittaker@daviecountync.gov

o   11 am-12 pm Reading with Ranger- any age participant may sign-up for a 15 minute time slot to read to Ranger, a live Golden Retriever certified by Therapy Dog International. No drop in, registration 2 days in advance.

o   1-2pm-Next Chapter Book Club-for adults & teens with intellectual differences, see brochure for info.

o   2:15 pm Reader’s Clubs –Middle School and Young Adults enjoy snacks while discussing a common read. See brochure and calendar for alternating dates, and meetings with extra time for movie viewing.

o   3:30-4:30 Coding Club- Ages 8-14- SIGN-UP REQUIRED available 1 week in advance of class. 10 seats with 5 waiting spots. See program flyer for details of weekly lessons.

3:15-5:15 Games & Legos: the Lemoncello Game & Robo Lego carts will be out for families to engage in creative building or gaming as they wish. Parents are strongly encouraged to play with and supervise their children and friends during these opportunities for good quality interaction between kids and adults. Please supervise an orderly clean-up of materials used.

Fridays
Pre-K Story-Time- 11 am- is planned for and focused on the youngest patrons.  Siblings and older folks who enjoy the magic of stories, rhyme, rhythm and song are welcome. Ellie, Miss Julie and Mrs. Archer alternate hosting story time throughout the year.

Saturdays
11am-12pm Reading with Ranger- any age participant may sign-up for a 15 minute time slot to Read to Ranger, a live Golden Retriever certified by Therapy Dog International. No drop in; 2 day advance registration.

New NC Kids Digital Library is Free!
Families can also take advantage of the NC Kids Digital Library. The new NC Kids eBook collection is targeted just for children, pre-K through elementary school. Children can enjoy a variety of both ebooks and audiobooks. Many of the selections for younger children can also be viewed as a video.

The Davie County Public Library is located at 371 N Main St, Mocksville, NC 27028 and  can be reached at (336) 753-6030 or www.library.daviecounty.org. The library is open Monday – Thursday 9:00 am – 8:30 pm; Friday 9:00 am – 5:30 pm; Saturday 9:00 am – 3:00 pm; and Sunday 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm.

 

The library’s Cooleemee Branch is located at the Cooleemee Shopping Center on Highway 801 South. It can be reached at (336) 284-2805 and is open Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; closed Saturday and Sunday.