Begin with Reading

Altrusa International of Greenwood Inc. and the Leflore County MSU Extension Service Office will hold a kickoff Thursday for their annual Begin with Reading program. The event will be held at 11:30 a.m. at the Extension office. Preparing for the event are, from left, Jennifer Russell, Extension Service child and family development agent, and Loretta Assini, Altrusa president and Literacy Committee chair.

September is National Literacy Month. Each year in September, the Leflore County MSU Extension and Altrusa International of Greenwood seek to recruit new Begin with Reader volunteers.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer reader, please call our office to schedule a time to fill out an application and view a short video that explains in details on how the program functions. We need your help with promoting the joy of talking, listening and reading to children.

This year, we are observing volunteer readers for their service to Begin with Reading at 11:30 a.m. on Thursday at the Extension, 309 W. Market St., Greenwood.

Children who have reading difficulties in the primary grades often had limited early literacy learning experiences. Help us to change this statistic, which seems to be sweeping the Mississippi Delta. It only takes one hour a month to make a difference in the life of a child. Choose today to be that resolve.

Below are the benefits to gaining great literacy skills that I encourage all parents to think about now. This will help your child to get ahead and have great school success. “Success in school and later in life begins at home with reading” is the motto of Begin with Reading!

Ways to promote early literacy

Be a model of literate behavior for your children.

• Write notes and post on various objects to help with identification. For example, label the door for little ones “Door.” This helps with word, language and association.

• Keep a calendar and daily planner. Post lists of food and household needs and children's responsibilities. Introduce new vocabulary words during routine conversation and while reading. Subscribe to a local newspaper and magazines the entire family will enjoy.

• Discuss printed text, words and sounds as objects that can be thought about, manipulated, altered and explored — sing songs, make up silly rhymes, read books and play with words and sounds every day.

• Help children build and use their ever-growing vocabulary.

Though you have seen some of this information in a previous articles, remember some things bear repeating.

Each of these examples I use often with my daughter. Introducing literacy skills doesn't have to always be so formal. General conversation with your children daily will generate many opportunities for learning. For example, just the other day I recall having what I call a daily conversation about my daughter’s day using words she may not commonly use. I asked my daughter if she understood the meaning of the word. To my surprise, she did. She went on to explain the meaning. Even I was reminded how very vital conversations are to the learning of a child. Questions will arise, which helps us to understand critical thinking skills are being developed.

Tools for Literate Behavior for children

Some tools are pens, pencils, markers, paper, envelopes, a stapler, paper clips, stamps, a dictionary, an atlas, telephone books, magazines, catalogs and newspapers.

Engage in daily literacy activities with your children — write thank-you notes, mail birthday cards, look up phone numbers, find exotic destinations on an atlas, write lists, read books, visit the library.

More importantly, read often in front of your children. This has more impact than you will ever know.

Children listen more to what they see us do than what we say.

Jennifer Russell is the county coordinator and a child and family development Extension agent for the Washington County MSU Extension Service Office in Greenville. You may contact her at 662-334-2669 or

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