Talking to others and listening as books are read aloud help the children's young minds as they develop language skills. These language skills are the ones they need to help them learn to read and write. By reading to a child and pointing out words they learn to reconize common words by sight.
Now children will also be able to learn about the importance of reading when they're sitting in the waiting room at BV County Public Health. The Public Health Immunization Clinic will kick off the program starting October 28. Another center will be located at Dr. Lisa Lindeman's dental office.
"It is our hope we'll be able to figure out through this model how other offices, community business will be able to be part of this as families go to places to wait with their children - to encourage reading," said Rhonda Christensen with ISU Extension.
Local supporters in Storm Lake are partnering with Iowa Public Television to help make a difference in children's lives. The learning center is part of a year-long pilot program to improve childhood literacy. Mary Ohrtman, BV County STEPS coordinator says the learning center is something Public Health will be able to keep indefinitely. The learning center consists of a mobile cart full of age-appropriate books, brochures for parents about choosing books and educational media wisely and will also offer a TV and DVD player which will allow children and parents to experience high qualitiy programming by the national Public Broadcast Service (PBS) - which airs such shows as "Arthur" and "Sesame Street."
Last winter there were six learning sessions held as part of a the Partnering in Communitites program to look at how communities like Storm Lake could help parents help children be more successful in school and become successful readers. Ohrtman said they broke out in smaller groups and the group she participated in decided to talk about the importance of reading. Ohrtman said at one point Trista Peitzman with IPTV was in her group. They began brainstorming about how they could raise awareness in parents in order to promote reading and looked for some unconventional ways. "So I mentioned to my group wouldn't it be great to get something at public health," she says. "There's nothing really there to entertain them."
Ohrtman says during another brainstorm Christiansen had just returned from Dr. Lindeman's office and Ohrtman says she often refers clients to her dental office - so it was decided to ask if they'd like to have a learning center too.
PBS KIDS Raising Readers is a national literacy campaign and part of the Ready to Learn initiative focused on building reading skills at home, at school, in childcare and in the community.
The Ready to Learn initiative is funded by a Ready to Learn grant from the United States Department of Education. The initiative is currently developing engaging PBS KIDS Raising Readers television programs, exciting games, websites and easy-to-use learning resources for kids, parents, caregivers and teachers - all with the goal of helping childre ages two to eight get ready to read.