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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Discovering the Joy of Reading


#chillandread Challenge Story

Eleven-year-old Bret Kyle isn’t what you would call an avid reader.

“He enjoys reading things that are of interest to him, but he doesn’t have an overabounding love to read,” Bret’s mother, Nicole, said.

But Bret does like ice cream, doughnuts and popcorn, and that can get anyone interested in reading.

For the second straight year, Bret is taking part in the #chillandread challenge. He – and your child – has the opportunity to win prizes while improving their reading skills.

Here’s how it works: Take your child to LearningRx (8856 Youree Drive, Suite D) or Thrifty Peanut Book Warehouse (7600 Youree Drive) and pick up a reading chart, which looks like a Bingo card. Each square has assignments, such as “Read a book about an animal” and “Read a book about someone you admire.” Once your child makes a Bingo (straight line, up/down, diagonally, or they complete the entire card, they go back to LearningRx and get a coupon redeemable for their prize at places like Baskin-Robbins, Sugarwalk Popcorn and Johnny’s Pizza.

“It really helped him to focus and look for things,” Nicole said of Bret’s quest to complete last year’s challenge. “He had to relate to the bingo card. He actually had to search for things. It taught him to really look at the content and read the book jacket or read the inside cover and say, ‘Oh, this is going to work,’ or, ‘Oh, this is not.’ He had to find out more about the book than just looking at the title.”

The local LearningRx franchise – which consistently ranks among the best in the country – has partnered with several local businesses to develop the challenge to improve the literacy rate in our area.

“Louisiana is 51st in the nation in literacy, which is a big-time problem,” said Donesa Walker, owner and executive director of LearningRx in Shreveport, who is also a master teacher and dyslexia reading specialist. “The average literacy rate of the average adult in Louisiana is eighth grade, and only 40 percent are attaining that level.”

Did you know a child is never too young to be introduced to reading?

“Reading starts from birth, and really, even during pregnancy,” Walker said. “You need to be reading to children before they’re even born, to build the auditory processing skill that’s necessary to do the reading and the coding for the reading process. The earlier we can get vocabulary building – where the adult is reading to the child – and the child is reading at an early age, the better the literacy level and the growth of literacy.”

If a child struggles to read, the full effect may not be felt until they begin their professional life.

“Our community is impacted in a big way because it limits where you can go in life if your literacy is low,” Walker explained. “It limits your earnings, and keeps your income level at a lower level because you don’t have the skill set. … Even if you have a great job, to improve to the next level usually requires passing a high-level exam or something like that.”

To make reading fun for her son, Nicole tried to create an environment similar to the book he was reading.

“We took a book about the beach to the beach with us,” Nicole said. “We actually got to feel like we were really there. A book about a rainy day, we picked a rainy day to read that one. It just gave us another level of being a part of what was going on in the book.”

It’s also a way to make reading more enjoyable.

“A love for reading allows you to not only travel through your mind to a lot of different places, but it also allows you to travel through time,” Walker said. “You can travel back into history. You can travel forward into science fiction. … It’s really a movie of life, and you can go anywhere you want to go. You’re unlimited in where you can go through a book. Through the love of reading, you can become the president. Through the love of reading, you could travel back in time and be a cowboy.”

The #chillandread challenge is not just for children. Adult reading charts/bingo cards ask you to do things like “Read aloud to a classroom or group,” or “Read a book or chapter on video, and post to social media.”

“Literacy is defined as the ability to read and function at societal levels,” Walker said. “If you’re an adult and you’re reading below a fourth-grade level, that is not considered literate. You may have the basic skill, but you don’t have the ability to read a legal document – or interpret it or understand it. You don’t have full literacy at that point.

The #chillandread challenge continues through July 31.


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