Reading campaign to give preschoolers books, a head start

By Gus Bode

[email protected] Twenty-two points, plus triple-word-score, plus fifty points for using all my letters. Game’s over. I’m outta here.

SIUC Head Start is collecting children’s books for more than 400 preschoolers for its 10th annual “A Book in Every Home” campaign until Dec. 3.

Holly Duckworth, director of the Carbondale Head Start center, said most children do not have the luxury of having a book or one they do not have to share with an older sibling.

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“Kids love to get books,” Duckworth said. “At home, everything is every bodies’, but this is their very own.”

Campaign Chair Linda Dunn said their goal is to give each Head Start child at least one book. Last year, the campaign collected 3,500 books and each child received three books. The books must be appropriate for preschool-age children.

“I think the earlier we can encourage our kids to develop a love for books, the better off they will be,” Dunn said. “It’s just a good skill to have for a lifetime.”

Dunn, who is the wife of Provost and Vice Chancellor John Dunn, said it seems that reading for leisure is a vanishing pastime among children. Television and video games now fragment children’s attention so much that stopping to read a book sounds boring to them, she said.

“Watching movies in cars absolutely staggers me,” she said. ” What happened to looking out the window or reading a book? I find it kind of sad that kids’ attention is drawn away from something that is so crucial to their development.”

Reading is a skill absolutely crucial to their development, Dunn said. Parents can be instrumental in helping their children become good readers by reading with them or by reading by themselves to set an example.

Dunn said parents should use their downtime to read with their children. She said she treasures the moments when she read with her children at bedtime.

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When she was a child in the 1940s, Dunn said she was encouraged to read. Granted, she said, that was mostly due to a lack of options, and being forced to make her own fun. But in the end, she learned to love reading. Even now, Dunn said she and her brother would rather read than talk.

“It was a habit that we developed early and I don’t think we ever dropped it,” Dunn said. “I think reading is one of the cornerstones of education.”

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