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Family Literacy Day encourages relatives to read and relax

Alyssa Higginbotham, 5, snuggles with blanket, pillow, her aunt, Kathy Sissum and Dora the Explorer; Little Star. Alyssa, who is a kindergarten student at Bishop Larkin Catholic School, was enjoying the time spent with her aunt and her mom, Jan Higginbotham, at the school’s annual Family Literacy Day.

MICHELE MILLER | Times

Alyssa Higginbotham, 5, snuggles with blanket, pillow, her aunt, Kathy Sissum and Dora the Explorer; Little Star. Alyssa, who is a kindergarten student at Bishop Larkin Catholic School, was enjoying the time spent with her aunt and her mom, Jan Higginbotham, at the school’s annual Family Literacy Day.

PORT RICHEY

They came equipped with blankets, pillows and books: Dr. Seuss, Dora the Explorer, Nancy Drew and the like.

The fourth annual Family Literacy Day saw an impressive turnout of ready-to-read grown-ups: moms, dads, aunts, grandmothers and granddads like Rick Benson, who was looking forward to reading Green Eggs and Ham with his 5-year-old grandson, Timmy Benson.

"It's kind of scary, huh?" Benson said as he waited in the lobby of Bishop Larkin Catholic School, holding a blue Dr. Seuss book bag.

Or maybe not.

"It was good," said Alyssa Higginbotham, 5, who was fortunate to have her mom, Jan Higginbotham and aunt, Kathy Sissum, in tow. "My mom showed me how to read. She was pointing to some of the words but I didn't know all the words."

No doubt there's something pretty wonderful about cuddling up with a good book, especially when there's a loved one around to read along with. And what better way to motivate youngsters to become lifelong readers?

That's the thinking behind the Family Literacy Day, said third-grade teacher Natalie DeMarco, who organized the event with first-grade teacher Heidi Schlyer.

"We want to get the families involved in reading with the kids and building literacy," she said.

Students also collected pledges and donations to read a certain number of books or pages during Family Literacy Day. Money raised will go toward funding a reading event in the spring that will feature special guest readers, authors and perhaps a Tampa Bay Buccaneer or two, DeMarco said.

After reading, students also had the opportunity to invite someone they loved to lunch.

"We had 100 percent participation in our class," said Timmy and Alyssa's kindergarten teacher, Stephanie Drew. "Every student had someone here. That's wonderful. It shows that there's so much support at home. That's the best I can ask for."

How to motivate children to read

>> Learn more about your child's interests and suggest books, magazines and articles that relate to those topics.

>> Sometimes good movies are a starting point for pleasure reading — after seeing a movie based on a book, children may be motivated to read the book.

>> Sometimes travel sparks reading, and finding books that relate to a place you visit on a family vacation can get a child hooked.

>> Keep books and other reading materials at home.

>> Read books with your children. Children of any age can appreciate being read to.

>> Be a good role model — let your children see you reading.

>> Try a hands-on activity. There are many activities that tie in literacy themes.

Source: Reading is Fundamental. For more tips, visit www.rif.org/parents.

Family Literacy Day encourages relatives to read and relax 09/30/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 30, 2008 3:03pm]

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