By Ree West
I take a peek around the bookcase to see if my help is needed; no, the child is still snuggled into a beanbag, completely absorbed in a book. His mother appears content as she browses the collection and adds to a growing stack of books. At an opportune moment I mention how happy her son’s impressive focus makes me, and the mom shares with me that a series her son discovered for himself at the library has got him absolutely riveted.
It’s not just the scene that warms my heart: The boy’s love of reading hints at future success at school and in life. An impressive body of research links childhood achievements in reading and math to success in adulthood. Findings suggest that reading advances in childhood have an enduring positive effect on socioeconomic advances across the life span. Kids who take a love of reading with them into adulthood are more likely to succeed.
The fact that this child discovered a series he’s enthusiastic about at the library gives me another reason to celebrate: Research also highlights a trend that’s sometimes referred to as the “decline by 9,” in which there’s a significant decrease in the number of children who read for enjoyment, between the ages of 8 and 9. And how do you beat the “decline by 9”? Give kids plenty of opportunities to choose books for themselves, and give them interaction with other readers, both peers and adults.
Our new Winthrop Library will be such a special place for the kids in our community to develop a lifelong love of reading. The children’s area will be a warm and welcoming environment for creative play and learning. A mother once made my day (she actually made my month, or my year or possibly my entire life) by describing her daughter at home between storytime sessions, pretending to be “Miss Ree,” reading to the dolls and stuffed animals that she had assembled.
When I look at the architectural drawings of the Children’s Nest, it is so very easy for me to envision that child, curled up in a reading nook with a toy and a book. I can see myself in the new library surrounded by preschoolers, all of us doing an action rhyme to get the wiggles out (and work on listening skills, reading readiness and social-emotional awareness) before the next story. In fact, I can envision all of us together at the new library, creating, learning, and growing. Can you see yourself there, too?
The Friends of Winthrop Public Library are seeking your help to complete the final stretch in the construction of the new library. We’re close to the finish line, but the Children’s Nest is still in need of funding. No matter what the size, your contribution at Give Methow this month will make a big difference in our community. Please help the Friends reach their goal of 1,000 donors in support of our new library. From now through the end of October, you can visit www.givemethow.org to make a gift to nonprofit organizations that enrich our community in so many ways. And, I can’t wait to see you at the new library: Visit winthroplibraryfriends.org to find out how to tour the construction site this month. Thank you so much for your support.
Ree West is the Winthrop librarian.