Read Aloud WV of Jackson County is set to begin another year of bringing the joy of reading to students in Jackson County schools.

Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook, said, “Reading to a child creates a reader.” In its simplest form, that is the purpose of the Read Aloud program.

“When you read aloud to children you open the world to them,”co-chairman of the Jackson County Read Aloud board Janet McCauley said. “It sparks their imagination and curiosity.”

The program in Jackson County has done that inside and outside the classroom this past year.

“We have provided a reader to any teacher requesting one in each elementary school in Jackson County,” McCauley said. “Some go once a week, some less often depending on what works best for the teacher.”

Greta Tyler, a reader at Ripley Elementary, was very impressed with the students.

“What a great year I had reading for Tim Young’s fourth grade class,” Tyler said. “He revved up the kids for my visit and always encouraged them to listen carefully. They were responsive, affectionate, interested, and alert. They thanked me for coming with enthusiasm. One boy whispered to me, ‘You are the best reader.’ I’m delighted to return to his class this year.”

To become a Read Aloud reader, an orientation is required.

“This orientation gives you resources and a chance to understand a little more about how to actually read aloud,” McCauley explained. “It’s very valuable to those starting out or coming back to the program. To be matched with a teacher, you do have to attend.”

This year’s program is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the Ripley Senior Center.

Read Aloud of Jackson County doesn’t stop at the classroom door however.

Cheryl Miller, retired kindergarten teacher and member of the Read Aloud board, takes “Snuggle and Read,” to various locations.

“It’s just what the name implies,” Miller said. “Each child snuggles with a blanket, and I read to them. It’s so simple but gives them great comfort and joy. Each of them then gets to take the blanket, donated by Constellium, home with them, along with a book of their choice provided by Read Aloud. It’s just the most wonderful experience which provides the foundation to their learning and enjoyment of reading.”

Constellium is not the only business to get involved with Read Aloud.

For the past several years, local banks have passed out books to children through the drive-through window.

“The tellers are just as excited about giving the books out as the kids are about receiving them,” United Bank’s Kerry Casto said.

For the first time, Read Aloud was part of the Jackson County Junior Fair as a collaborative effort led by the Jackson County Board of Education Title I program.

Miller, who helped coordinate this event with Title I Director Tracy LeMasters and Director of Elementary Education Rhonda Jelich, said this was a unique opportunity to share the love of reading with children of all ages.

“We used a farm theme and had some guest readers like Mayor Carolyn Rader and even the Mountaineer from West Virginia University,” Miller said. “It was so well received by the children. At the end they got to take home books and math manipulatives provided by Title I. We’re already thinking about next year.”

Reading aloud to children, whether it is in the classroom, at the fair, or at home is invaluable.

“Reading aloud to your child, even as they get older, provides an emotional connection,” co-chairman of the Read Aloud board Lisa Bailey said, “but it also increases their vocabulary, their comprehension skills, and lets them experience the story.”

For information about the Read Aloud orientation on Sept. 17, contact McCauley at 304-532-2675, Bailey at 304-372-5596, or Linda Dickirson at 304-786-0065.

To support the local Read Aloud program, give to the Jackson County Community Foundation at jccfinc.org, Child Literacy/Read Aloud of Jackson County Fund.