The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 3, 2013

An early boost for readers

JOHNSTOWN — Beginnings Inc. is working to make readers out of children at an early age.

The nonprofit agency recently received a $500 grant from the Penelec Fund for the Future of Greater Johnstown, a fund within the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, to establish the Keep Books program for families participating in its Parent and Child Together playgroups.

“We actually had this program two years ago, and it’s a way to get books into the hands of kids. And the books are theirs to keep and take home,” said Marcia Schilli, assistant executive director of Beginnings Inc. “The books focus on nursery rhymes and stories in that type of genre.”

The playgroups bring children starting at toddler age together, along with their parents and siblings, for socialization in small groups that involve play and interaction.

The groups meet at the Johns­town location at 111 Market St. and in Ebensburg at 405 S. West St., with sessions scheduled on various days of the week.

The Keep Books program was created by Ohio State University to promote reading and home and school literacy connections. It addresses the need for inexpensive but appropriate books in the home, creates positive communication between children and parents and enhances achievement because children are motivated and encouraged to read at home.

“We purchased several hundred books and they are a series so they wouldn’t be handed out all at once,” Schilli said.

She added that some families who utilize the playgroups don’t have age-appropriate books at home, so the sooner they can expose children to the books and reading the better.

“Children will be better prepared for preschool and ready for kindergarten and eager to learn when they get there,” Schilli said.

The hope is to continue with the program.

“We did a survey with parents the last time we did this, and it showed they are spending more time reading with their children, so we’re seeing results,” Schilli said.

For more information or to register for the playgroups, call 539-1919.

About the Keep Books program:

• The groups meet at the Johnstown location at 111 Market St. and in Ebensburg at 405 S. West St.

• Sessions are scheduled on various days of the week.

• For more information or to register for the playgroups, call 539-1919.

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