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The Mountaineer Online

Story time promotes literacy, love of reading in young children

Mindy Dunlap, SKIES Unlimited associate instructor, reads Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” to a handful of preschool-age children at McEwen Library last week. (Photo by Michelle Kennedy)
Mindy Dunlap, SKIES Unlimited associate instructor, reads Dr. Seuss’ “The Lorax” to a handful of preschool-age children at McEwen Library last week. (Photo by Michelle Kennedy)

Michelle Kennedy

Staff Writer

(Editor’s note: This article is the seventh in an eight-part series featuring the SKIES Unlimited program, which is designed to enrich military children’s lives by expanding their knowledge, allowing them to explore and learn new skills.)

In the world of make believe, anything can happen.
Military children are learning to enjoy books and use their imagination every Tuesday in March during the SKIES Unlimited “Story Time in the Library.”
“I’ve seen kids growing up (and progressing) from that running around fun stage (of development) to being able to sit and listen because they realize something is going on,” said Katherine Walsh, children’s librarian at McEwen Library. “I think it also gives parents a chance to be with their kids in a calm, relaxed setting.
“Children learn to put the written and spoken word together, and then they get to tie it all together with a craft,” she continued.
While story time is geared toward children 2 to 4 years old, all children are welcome, Walsh added. She also said she has noticed that participating in story time helps children learn to sit and focus.
Story time allows children to learn about the story on different levels, not just hearing a book read aloud, but seeing the words and pictures, and participating in a craft afterward promotes literacy on different levels, Walsh explained. All craft activities are related to the story read that day and can be easily recreated at home.
“We love (working with) SKIES (Unlimited),” Walsh said. “We have a regular story time on Tuesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m., but this is the first time SKIES (Unlimited) has (participated) with us.”
SKIES Unlimited – which stands for Schools of Knowledge, Inspiration Exploration and Skills – offers a variety of classes to enhance military children’s intellectual, athletic and creative abilities.
Walsh said she especially enjoys having SKIES Unlimited help during story time because she believes children receive more educational benefits due to the program’s structured lesson plans.
“We’re happy to let people come in and (facilitate) story time for us,” Walsh said.
Mindy Dunlap, SKIES Unlimited associate instructor, agreed, adding that she enjoys being able to help out other programs like the McEwen Library because it’s a better outcome when organizations can work together.
“It’s the best working situation when we can work together,” she explained. “Working with children – especially the little ones – is great for me because I was a preschool teacher for 16 years. They are so curious at that age; that’s the best part.”
The weekly class, which is held from 10 to 10:45 a.m. Tuesdays at McEwen Library, is just one program children can enjoy. For more information about other SKIES Unlimited programs, call 772-0629.

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