Mary Ann McKay’s puppet asks kindergarten students in Tina Carmell’s class at MES about a story she read to them.
by Tom Chillemi
Mary Ann McKay will go to great lengths to get children to read.
As the youth service coordinator for the Middlesex County Public Library, McKay has expanded the library’s reading programs into Middlesex Elementary School in a partnership to promote reading together. “It’s been very well received,” she said. “Teachers seem to be happy to have someone to help promote how important reading is.”
MES kindergarten teacher Wendy Shores said McKay’s visits delight the children with stories, poems and songs. “We really appreciate her time, energy, and love of books,” said Shores. “We thank her for nurturing our students’ love of reading. We look forward to her future visits.”
Research has long shown that the more young children are read to, the more they will enjoy reading once they learn to read, said McKay.
McKay explained that when the MES librarian retired last year, she was not replaced. McKay helped fill the gap at MES by holding “story hour” for two pre-school classes, Head Start students and the five kindergarten classes.
McKay has continued library story hours at the Middlesex Family YMCA and the Horizons Early Learning Center at Urbanna United Methodist Church. She said these story hours are open to all children, not just those in the programs.
Urbanna Baptist Church Daycare children still come to the Urbanna Library for story hour.
In the summer McKay holds a six-week summer reading program.
McKay, a part-time library staff member, is a retired teacher who is certified for pre-school through 8th grade with a master’s degree as a reading specialist. “I understand the skills of making a good reader and motivating them,” she said.
She taught in Bergen County, N.J., and was a substitute teacher in Lancaster County elementary and middle schools last year. This year she is focusing full time on her library duties.
As a partner with MES, McKay works with teachers to find stories that follow the classroom curriculum.
After reading a section, McKay involves children with questions. She also uses puppets and other visual aids to engage children in the story. She admits she has to engage children “a little more” to compete with video games and television.
McKay uses age appropriate stories. She starts with shorter stories and, as their attention spans get longer, she lengthens the stories.
McKay also works with “Bridges Head Start” through the Parent Child Development Corporation. With this group, she emphasizes how important it is to read to children and different services the library will provide for adults and children.
Hopefully, parents will read to them more. Children love to be read to,” she said. “For parents, it’s quality one-on-one time. It’s a nice positive time.”
For information about these library programs, call McKay 758-5717.
To get children involved with their library, the Deltaville Library will hold a “Kids’ Carnival and Crafts” program on Saturday, January 28, from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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