Kids enjoy ‘Focus on Reading’ at Baldwin Elementary School

LAKE COUNTY — Gorgeous spring weather with balmy temperatures in the 80’s enticed a lot of local children outdoors to play in the sun last week, but on Wednesday evening a number of kids chose to attend an equally fun indoor event at Baldwin’s Elementary School.

The festive get-together was called “Focus on Reading” and was designed to coincide with March’s being “National Reading Month.” Area school children and their parents were invited to have dinner at the school cafeteria and then attend a play and participate in interactive games and crafts, all on the subject of getting into books and making reading an important part of every child’s life.

The entertainment was sponsored by “Project Focus,” a program funded by the Michigan Department of Education, which serves grades one through eight in area schools. In addition to introducing children to a variety of reading materials, the organization (based in Fremont) helps kids with arts and crafts projects. A number of colorful items which had been designed and constructed by the pupils were on display in the school’s gymnasium last week.

The highlight of the evening was a presentation of “Tuba Tales,” a lively performance featuring music and mime, which had the children and their parents enthusiastically cheering and applauding. As a part of this special “Family Night,” the show emphasized the importance of making reading an activity that Moms and Dads share with their children.

“Our first goal is to get kids interested in reading,” notes Project Focus director and tutoring specialist Melissa McLeod. “Our hope is that they’ll read, not because they have to, but because they want to.”

When asked why reading is so important an aspect of a young student’s education, McLeod remarked, “A child who reads is on track to becoming a successful person. Reading prepares kids for coping with everyday, practical problems. Even such things as reading street signs, or directions in a cook-book, for example, are impossible without basic literacy. A child who is successful reading tends to be successful in everything.”

She adds that this skill extends across the curriculum: a youngster who is at ease with the printed word can solve story-problems in math without difficulty, whereas one who is intimidated by reading is likely also to be stumped in arithmetic.

The smiling faces of the children at last Wednesday’s program were ample testimony to the pleasure kids find in a good book once they have got into the habit of reading. Seven-year-old Bryson Hyatt was clearly having a terrific time. A devoted fan of Dr. Seuss, whose favorite books is “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” (”I can read it all by myself!”) this young bibliophile says that he likes to read because “Books are fun” and “You can learn a lot from books!”

As the summer begins, parents in the Lake County area are urged to make reading an important aspect of their children’s vacation activities. Another Project Focus “Focus on Reading” night will probably be scheduled near the end of the school term, and Baldwin’s own Pathfinder Community Library will be offering its popular summer book contests and reading

programs.

For more information, contact the school or the library.