CLARKSBURG — Even with video games, computer tablets and other digital resources, the book still remains a powerful tool to tell stories, teach facts, and share experiences.
“Even if children have access to digital devices, they still read,” said Crystal Hamrick, children’s librarian, Bridgeport Library. “If I can get them to read an electronic book, that is still good. Our library offers many digital books for our young readers.
“Reading is very important to character development, to understand how stories flow,” she said. “I can’t say that our kids are reading less. The amount of time given them to read has changed. They don’t spend as much time in the school library. The teachers want the kids to read, but there is a limit on the time they can devote to that.”
Children from lower income homes are not going to have a library inside their home, according to Hamrick. The school and public library are the only places for them to have the opportunity to experience written stories.
Erica Perry, children’s librarian, Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library, finds that many of the children coming to her department don’t have that much access to the digital tools.
“They come in and read all day long,” Perry said. “They will come in after school, choose a book, and sit in the back and read.
“The little ones, birth to age 3, come in on Wednesday,” she said. “We have a word wall. We do picture books and attach the words. The words we do on Wednesday, they will learn as part of their vocabulary. They look in the books and they will recognize these words.”
While video lays out a visual story for children, reading compels them to use their imagination to create the characters, setting and situations in the story.
“They use their imaginations to express themselves,” Perry said. “Even when they draw pictures I will ask them what the picture is about and they will express themselves through their own vocabulary. They will put the wall words into it.”
Perry advises mothers to read to their children even before they are born. And parents should emphasize reading to their children. They should read to the child until he is 5. Then, it is time for the child, between the ages of 5 and 7, to read every day for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In the effort to draw children to books, it is important to find subjects that interest a child.
Hamrick finds that little girls like anything that is cute. As they get older, fantasy and mysteries appeal to her young readers.
“Little boys like heroes, any story that describes a hero, where the main character is a hero. They like hero action,” Hamrick said.
Little girls at the Clarksburg-Harrison Public Library like the Silverlicious and Pinkalicious books by Victoria Kann, according to Perry.
Hamrick has Mother Goose on the Loose, every third Friday from 10:30-11 a.m. at the Bridgeport Public Library. Dog Day is held every third Saturday afternoon. Reservations are needed to participate with therapy dogs. Kids Reading Club and Movie Night is held at 6 p.m. every third Friday.
The American Girl and Heroes Club are held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday.
Perry has story hour at Meadowbrook Mall on Tuesdays 11 a.m. to noon. On Wednesday she has story hour for pre-school children from 10:30-11 a.m. The story hour for children, ages birth to age 3, is also on Wednesday from 10 a.m.- 10:20.
There is an afterschool program for children on Wednesdays from 3-4 p.m. This program includes tutoring, games, and a little book club.