Madison is 7 years old, and a second grader in the Penfield schools. She loves reading, math, and playing her viola.
Heather, her mother, says that she read aloud to Madison before she was born--sometimes baby books that she had bought ahead for her, but also things that she was reading for herself, like magazine and newspaper articles, to let her hear language. Madison's first book was Guess How Much I Love You.
When Madison was 9 months old, she came to the Penfield Public Library for the first time for Baby Story Time. She attended Wee Walkers, Terrific Twos, and then moved on to Pre-school Story Time.
When I asked Madison how she became a reader, she told me, "I don't remember. I just started loving reading. I learned to read when I was 4." Heather, Madison's mother remembered, though: "I kept exposing Madison to books, reading every day. I think her love of reading has put her ahead.
Now, when I look over the Scholastic Books offerings, I have to go to the books a couple grades ahead to find things I think will interest her. Heather tries to limit purchasing books because Madison goes through them so quickly.
On Library Day at school, Madison starts reading her new books on the bus on the way home from school. Usually, by nightfall, she has read two of her chapter books. Madison's family goes to the Penfield Library frequently. There is a huge selection of books, and everything is free.
Madison loves "chapter books." When asked which series was her favorite, Madison said, "I like all of them." Recent reads include "The Boxcar Children," "The Owl Diaries," and the Emily Windsnap series. At home, Madison's mom has been reading Alice in Wonderland to her. Sometimes, Madison reads ahead to see what will happen next.
When they read together before bedtime, Madison asks her mom to start reading where she left off, so she can hear the part she read alone read out loud. Madison says," Mommy mostly reads to me, unless she's sick. Then, Daddy reads to me, or when I want him to." Heather looks forward to the time when Madison will read Laura Ingall's Little House on the Prairie series, her own childhood favorite.
Madison's mom says that after she has been read to by a parent, Madison reads herself to sleep every night. She fills her bed with books, and later, when she is asleep, her mom takes the books out of her bed so she has space to sleep.
The day I spoke with Madison and her mother, her dad and her sisters were at the Penfield Library too, picking out books. The two younger girls have both participated in the "1000 Books Before Kindergarten" program, a program that didn't exist when Madison was a preschooler. Both have read over 1000 books before beginning school.
Both of the girls, Nora and Lilly, were at the Library to pick out 5 books each, with the promise that they could return Monday or Tuesday to exchange their books for new ones. Madison was sad about February break: "No school for 9 whole days!" Because of their love of books and reading, all the girls are on their way to success in school and beyond.
Being a good reader is important to every child's development. Reading allows children to venture into experiences they will never have in life and share in the thoughts of characters and why they do what they do. It is the key to learning at school.
Family bonds, imagination, memory, analysis, insights, history, cultures, and knowledge of our world--these are just some of the things that libraries foster in our children, grandchildren, and ourselves.