ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
First grader Mya Lawrence, age 7, reads Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” to Belvidere Police Officer Tim Blankenship.

By Anne Eickstadt


Officer Tim Blankenship is one of a number of volunteers who visit schools in Belvidere to encourage children to read. Members of the Belvidere Police Dept., retirees, and other carefully vetted adults visit schools to listen to the children practice reading books out loud. As the adult encourages them, even with reading and understanding difficult words, the children can enjoy the books they have chosen while learning to have friendships with others that they would not normally spend time with.

The children can learn to sound out, or figure out, new and unfamiliar words to expand their vocabulary, increase their knowledge, and improve their school experience while making new friends and having fun while reading.

During his visit to Meehan School on Friday, March 13, Officer Blankenship listened to Mya Lawrence read ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ and ‘Sloppy Tiger on the Bus.’ He heard Kasey read ‘The Golden Egg Book,’ and Cobin read ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish.’ Travis read ‘The Dolphin on the Wall,’ ‘Freedom, Peace, Justice & Equality’ (about Dr. Martin Luther King), and ‘Animals in Winter.’

The children left Officer Tim with fist bumps and returned to their classroom with smiles on their faces.

Other benefits of children reading aloud to someone else can include reducing lisps and other speech impediments, reduce shyness, reduce the fear of speaking to strangers, and reduce the fear of public speaking. It will also benefit them as they grow, meet new people, and tackle challenging assignments in the future.

Other ways of encouraging your child to read aloud to others is to practice listening to them read at home, visiting childcare facilities where your child can read to younger kids, or visiting retirement homes where your child can read to those who cannot travel easily or are bed-bound. This would bring great joy to elder adults and encourage the younger children to have a desire to read.


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