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Reading program gives kids Head Start

Sydney Walker, 4, says she likes it best when the parents come in to the class to read. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

Sydney Walker, 4, says she likes it best when the parents come in to the class to read. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

Mrs. Dorothea Wolfe, head teacher of the morning class, reads to the children during storytime. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

Mrs. Dorothea Wolfe, head teacher of the morning class, reads to the children during storytime. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

Manuel Visocsky, 5, reads a book in the Travis Head Start "library." (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

Manuel Visocsky, 5, reads a book in the Travis Head Start "library." (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Today marks the end of the Raising a Reader program for the children enrolled at the Travis Head Start pre-school. 

The program, which began Feb. 1, is a take-home book bag program that helps promote reading among pre-school age children. The children take a bag of four to five books home for a week, then bring them back and exchange them for different ones.  The program also involves volunteers coming into the class and reading to the children. 

“The main focus of the program is to prepare the children for kindergarten and get them excited about reading,” said Mrs. Carol Johnson, the program’s family advocate. “It helps us identify development problems with any of the children that should be addressed before they move on to kindergarten as well.” 

With the advances in curriculum in kindergarten programs, the Head Start program wants to better prepare the children for the kind of schoolwork they will be doing once they get there. 

“Kindergarten isn’t just playtime anymore,” said Mrs. Deotha Wolfe, the head teacher of the morning class at the Travis Head Start. “These kids will be expected to read by the time they move on to first grade.” 

At the beginning of the program, the children are sent home with a journal so they can keep track of the books they read. It also helps ensure the parents are participating in the program. 

“It not only promotes reading for the children, but interaction between them and their parents as well,” said Mrs. Wolfe. 

“Being on a military installation, we understand the parents sometimes have tough schedules; this program gives the parents an extra incentive for reading to the kids,” said Mrs. Johnson. “The children who participate in the program and bring back their completed journal get a certificate for a free pizza. It gives them a little something extra for their accomplishment.” 

The program also gets support from people outside Head Start. While the parents do volunteer in the classroom to read to the children, Head Start has had some of the groups on base come in to read also. 

“In the past we had people from the hospital, as well as the 60th Security Forces Squadron and others, sort of adopt our classes,” said Ms. Grace Brown, a Head Start associate teacher. “They sent people in every week to read to the children. It was great.” 

For now, the current students get to enjoy their well-earned and well-deserved pizzas.

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