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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

Children and Reading

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, March 10, 2019


I was indeed fortunate to have parents who recognized that reading is essential to the growth of a child.


Equally fortunate was that I had a 2nd grade teacher who wanted every one of her students to have a public library card, and encouraged reading by its use.


The icing on my cake was a high school teacher who was both my English teacher, as well as the teacher of a course called Creative Writing.


My mother began reading to me the minute I was born.  Sometimes it was from her Life and Look magazines --- popular in the 1950s.  Other times it was from her favorite stories.


She got the habit naturally, as her father was the 6th grade teacher at the New Matamoras School for over 40 years, and in the evening the whole family “had their nose in a book, or magazine” and I was hoping for some conversation, said my grandmother.


In the 2nd grade, my teacher read aloud from “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White which was a new book back in 1962.


My first trip to the public library found my mother guiding us around the children’s section where I selected 5 books to take home, including what would become my favorite, “Make Way for Ducklings” by Robert McCloskey.


On my weekly public library trip, I found the fascination of stories and information as my mother allowed (and encouraged) me to select my own books, even if there was some gentle nudges toward this book or that.


In our library today, any of the staff who has worked in the public library for more than a decade can name children that they have watched develop a reading habit which has grown into a lifelong part of their life.


A parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle or friend may be the person encouraging a child’s reading habit, or perhaps a teacher.


Of course, today’s options for reading includes all kinds of ebooks and online sources in addition to the traditional book.


The importance of reading today has not diminished with the computer.  If anything, the ability to read and comprehend has increased with the computer.


I am concerned when I observe young people struggling at the public computers at the library, because often the problem is not the mechanics of the computer, or cell phone, or whatever device they are using; it is the ability to read and comprehend the words and language.


I realize that English class may not be the most exciting thing to many, but it is critical to a lifelong career and living in the world today.


Like so many things, reading is enhanced by “practice” and the more you read the better you will be at whatever you are doing.


And today with the Internet, information simply floods our lives from endless sources on a variety of devices (including your brain), including the public library.


So, as I reach the end of my library career, I would offer these 3 suggestions for your reading habit:


  • Encourage children to read by allowing them to choose and select books and ebooks with gentle guidance.
  • Read, Read, Read whenever you can whatever you desire.
  • Curiosity is always a reason to read, take advantage of it!


Just some advice from an old librarian.  Remember that librarians retire from formal work in a library, but never retire from being a librarian.