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Librarian Has Mission to Promote Early Childhood Literacy

11/18/2021

The Cortez Library's Director of Children's Programs inspires families and children to start reading early in life, and she has a reason why. Sponsored by Express Employment Professionals and Keesee Motor Company

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Cortez librarian, Laura McHenry's office feels like a giant toy box of stuffed animals, toys and children's books. No, she's not eccentric. She's the director of children's programs. And she's obsessed with inspiring kids to read. You're watching the local news network brought to you by express employment professionals and KEESEE motors. I'm Hannah Robertson. For the past 14 years, Laura McHenry, has made it her mission in life to convince parents, caregivers and the community that reading starts at infancy, toward that end. She works with local early childhood advocacy organizations to provide a wide range of early reading and literacy activities.

Lot of people think about literacy as reading and writing literacy is so much more, it's listening, it's singing little nursery rhymes, where the children get that memorized, writing and reading, and also bonding with the parent, during a reading session. I always emphasize the 20 minutes, 20 minutes read to a child the most important 20 minutes of your day.

[Hannah Robertson] McHenry along with other childhood literacy advocates leads a program developed by LENA, a Colorado nonprofit that provides research-based strategies for introducing literacy in the home to build vocabulary, develop early language skills and reading readiness. During her once a week, story time sessions, she introduces one or two concepts like the colors of the Rainbow or numbers, names of animals or members of a family. She picks out the books to read and prepares craft boxes that parents can take home to reinforce the concept she introduces and those stuffed animals and toys in her office. They often participate in story time too. On Sundays, Families can tune into her hour long library show on KSJD community radio. It airs from 3:30 to 4:30 PM. And if that's not enough, she also spearheads a tutoring program in Montezuma-Cortez school district elementary and middle schools. Her bottom line, build the habit of reading into every child's life so that they become lifelong learners.

A child like from age of being an infant to the age of three, age of five, if their literacy skills, you know, vocabulary and starting to recognize letters and whatnot, if that isn't focused on and enhanced and emphasized in the home, first of all, then by the time that child is in third grade, they're falling behind and what's worse than feeling like you don't know something or that you're one step behind everybody else. Our mission statement here at the library is that we try to facilitate lifelong learning, but it begins basically in the cradle and some could say it begins in the womb. So I think that that's so important. And how are we going to compete globally? If we don't have those skills.

You can learn more about the early childhood literacy programs and special events on the library's website at cityofcortez.com. Click on the link to the library. Thanks for watching this edition of the local news network. I'm Hannah Robertson.

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