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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Children learn to appreciate literature at Love of Literacy event

    Brittney Smith / The Daily Wildc
    Brittney Smith / The Daily Wildcat Children play inside the Children’s Museum in downtown Tucson during the Love of Literacy event at the museum on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2014.

    The Children’s Museum Tucson transformed its front lawn into a world of words during its Love of Literacy event on Saturday.

    The fourth annual Love of Literacy event attracted families with children of all ages and offered booths with interactive activities put on by local Tucson businesses. From creating works of art at Tucson Unified School District’s watercolor booth to exploring the Pima County Public Bookmobile on site, there was no shortage of hands-on activities for children as well as informational services for parents.

    “[Love of Literacy] is an opportunity to engage with partners in the community, other nonprofits that have programming and services around literacy,” said Michael Luria, executive director of the Children’s Museum Tucson. “We’re acting as a conduit between the community and those organizations that support and promote literacy.”

    According to Literacy Connects, a nonprofit that aims to provide reading services to both children and adults in Southern Arizona, 60 percent of fourth-graders in some Pima County schools read below grade-level compared to the 40-percent national average. Luria said events such as Love of Literacy allow parents to access information about different services in the community that can help their children’s reading.

    “Let’s say a parent has a child that’s struggling with reading,” Luria said. “Here, they’re going to learn about sources in our community that they can tap into at no charge for them.”

    As one of those resources, Arizona Public Media had a booth to provide information on fun and educational programming available through its local Public Broadcasting Service.

    “A kid can have fun, but also learn a lot,” said Kent Laughbaum, a board member of AZPM’s Community Advisory Board. “To enjoy learning, that becomes a lifetime activity for them.”

    Sheena Querrer, a pre-physiology junior, and Valerie Zapanta-Dispo, a junior studying pre-physiology and nutritional sciences, both volunteered at the event as a part of the UA’s Filipino American Student Association. Their shared passion for volunteering and children’s causes drove them to help put on Love of Literacy. Luria said the easiest way for UA students to get involved with the Children’s Museum Tucson and events like Love of Literacy is through volunteering.

    Both Querrer and Zapanta-Dispo said that in a world overwrought with technology, promoting reading with engaging events such as Love of Literacy is important in early child development.

    “I think it’s really important, especially now where everything’s so into technology … for kids to have something like this where you’re not staring at a screen,” Zapanta-Dispo said.

    No TV screens or iPads could be found at this event. Instead, stories were enacted on stage by “Stories that Soar!,” attracting a large crowd as the actors performed various skits. There were also readings by Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Rep. Ron Barber.

    For Isabel Holliday, a second-grader from Manzanita Elementary School, the plays were her favorite part about Love of Literacy.

    Holliday said that she loves reading because “you can find new stuff” in books that you can’t find anywhere else. Her favorite books are the “Nancy Drew” series by Carolyn Keene, comprised of mysteries solved by a teenage girl, and “Whatever After” by Sarah Mlynowski, a series about a girl whose magic mirror transports her into different fairy tales.

    Through its engaging and educational activities, Love of Literacy showed that children in the Tucson community could easily be transported into an imaginative world, even without a magic mirror.

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