2018-06-29 / Front Page

INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING

Reading aloud leads to success
Laura Levering
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


Fireman James Freece, with the Fort Gordon Fire Department, interacts with some of his young listeners during a reading of “A Day with the Animal Firefighters,” for the June 22 “Reach Out and Read” gathering. 
Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Fireman James Freece, with the Fort Gordon Fire Department, interacts with some of his young listeners during a reading of “A Day with the Animal Firefighters,” for the June 22 “Reach Out and Read” gathering. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Dozens of local parents and children participated in an annual Reach Out and Read Summer Festival June 22 at the Family Outreach Center.

The festival was hosted by Fort Gordon’s New Parent Support Program and Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center’s Community Care Clinic.

The festival began with a variety of community partners who engaged children in interactive storytelling. The festival also featured kids’ activities and games, giveaways, and resources available from Fort Gordon community partners such as Woodworth Library, DDEAMC Nutrition Department, and others.

Reach Out and Read is a national nonprofit organization that incorporates books into pediatric care and encourages families to read aloud together. It was founded in 1989 with its first program at then-Boston City Hospital. Today, Reach Out and Read partners with more than 5,800 program sites and distributes 6.9 million books per year.


Adding some color to their morning (and to some rocks provided for painting) are the Lister siblings: Chloe, left, 2; Riley, 8; and Kaden (Chloe’s twin), 2, all part of an Army family living at Fort Gordon. 
Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Adding some color to their morning (and to some rocks provided for painting) are the Lister siblings: Chloe, left, 2; Riley, 8; and Kaden (Chloe’s twin), 2, all part of an Army family living at Fort Gordon. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement recommending that parent child reading begin at birth and continue at least through kindergarten. One way the program helps promote early childhood literacy is by partnering with physicians to ensure that every child receives a new book during their wellness checkups between 6 months and 5 years old. Physicians are also encouraged to incorporate reading into the wellness visit.


Sparky the Fire Dog, visiting the Family Outreach Center June 22 for “Reach Out and Read,” shares a hug with a young visitor. 
Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Sparky the Fire Dog, visiting the Family Outreach Center June 22 for “Reach Out and Read,” shares a hug with a young visitor. Bill Bengtson / Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office Dr. Karyl Bental, a pediatrician at DDEAMC, said that parents who make a habit of reading to their young children increase their children’s chance of achieving success. Most end up with a larger vocabulary compared to those who do not.

“The bigger the vocabulary by the time to get to kindergarten, the more successful they are in school,” Bental said.

And while the first five years are said to be a critical window of rapid brain development, Ambili Alamery, NPSP acting lead social worker, advises parents not to wait until their child is born if they can help it.

“I tell parents to start as early as 28 weeks developed in the womb,” Alamery said. “It’s a good way to get into the habit and a great way to bond with your child even while they’re still in the womb.”

It is a practice Liz Crist adopted early and involved her family in.

Crist, mother of 3-year-old twin girls and a 2-month-old boy, said she and her daughters love to read – so much so that they enrolled in the Fort Gordon 2018 Summer Reading Program at Woodworth Consolidated Library.

“They were huge on reading to my tummy before their brother came,” Crist said. “It was a good time to rest our bodies and get reading in.”

Recognizing there are challenges associated with reading to young children, such as short attention spans, Alamery said it’s important to continue and not give up.

“I guarantee you – we see it every day – if you read, they might be doing something actively with their hands or be focused on something else it seems like, but they are also taking in what you’re saying and doing,” Alamery said. “So even if you feel their attention span is not fully on you, still, just get into the practice of doing that.”

In the event you do not finish a book, do not get discouraged.

“Parents sometimes think they have to read the entire book,” Bental said. “Don’t. Point, talk about it, make it fun, and make it an everyday part of their life. Reading should be fun.”

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