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Bookworms infect children with love for reading

HCE member Hope Swenson, volunteer Wisconsin Bookworm Reader for Douglas County Headstart for over 10 years demonstrates her technique to her friend Anne Albert of Bennett. (Submitted photo)

Do you remember your favorite childhood storybook?

For many people that was the spark that ignited an interest in reading. Helping children discover books and reading is the goal of Wisconsin Bookworms, a Home and Community Education program.

Wisconsin Bookworms is a partnership between Wisconsin Association for Home and Community Education, University Wisconsin-Extension Family Living Program and Wisconsin Public Television.

Volunteer readers attend classrooms and read to students. Each book comes with activity sheets and ideas that families can do together. Research shows reading to children at a young age increases their educational success. Our volunteers know the joy and satisfaction of bringing this program to young children, some of whom may not otherwise have a chance to own books.

Locally HCE partners with RSVP and the Literacy Council. In Douglas County, all Headstarts have readers. Each reader goes to the classroom two times a month -- first time to read, second time to read and give books. Research tells us that reading twice is more effective for learning and retention.

When this Early Literacy Program began in 1998, 16,000 books were distributed to Wisconsin children. Debra Dowen, WAHCE Coordinator estimates 620,000 books have been purchased and given to 73,000 Wisconsin children over the last 15 years.

Parents whose children participate in the Wisconsin Bookworm report they talk more often with their children, spend time reading together and visit the public library.