TV show enlivens reading Cable: At the Jones Communications studios, librarians use props and ask questions during the taping of 'Imagination Station.'

November 01, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Although Thanksgiving was a month away, Old Tom Turkey was strutting about the Jones Communications studios -- a make-believe character at "Imagination Station."

Anne Arundel County librarian Dee Callahan brought Tom Turkey to life for about 20 preschoolers from Crofton Day School who attended a recent taping of the library's story-time show. "Imagination Station" is taped once a month and preschoolers from area day care centers are invited as an audience.

It might not be as lively as the Peanut Gallery of the old "Howdy Doody" show, but it's also a lot more than a ho-hum reading circle. Librarians teach the children songs and enliven characters and stories with props such as stuffed animals, food and puppets. They also ask questions about the story to keep the children involved.

"Do you think the children are making friends with the turkeys?" Callahan asked.

"Oh, yes, they are laughing, they are friends," one girl answered.

After the happy ending, in which children in the story save the turkeys from a dinner-table fate, Callahan asked, "Why do you think the turkeys are thankful?"

"Because they went home on the school bus with the children," one little boy piped up.

Experts say that reading aloud to children helps them learn basics of reading that are often taken for granted.

Marlene Welch, a reading specialist and director of the Child Care Training Institute at Anne Arundel Community College, said it shows children such mechanics of reading as turning pages from right to left, and reading passages from left to right.

As Callahan read, turned pages and pointed to pictures, the children could see that words make sentence patterns and each word is made up of letters that have specific sounds.

"I would not teach algebra without first teaching numbers," she said. "And you can't teach reading unless you teach them their shapes, left-to-right progression, and the difference between big and little letters."

A lot of reading is life experiences, Welch said -- getting out into the world and seeing everyday things to which children then can attach words. Callahan used a variety of props to tell several different turkey stories. She brought out boxes of oatmeal and crackers and bowls of fruit as she told a story about a hungry turkey.

"Children need to see a tree, see an elephant, to give words meaning and help them visualize it," she said.

The shows taped last week will be aired on Jones' Channel 22 at 5 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Anne Arundel County.


Reading list Librarians recommend these books for tips on reading aloud to children:

"For Reading Out Loud!" by Margaret Kimmel

"Hey! Listen to This," edited by Jim Trelease

"New York Times Parent's Guide to the Best Books for Children," by Eden Ross Lipson

"The New Read Aloud Handbook," by Jim Trelease

"More Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children," by William Russell

"Read Aloud Now!" by the American Library Association

Pub Date: 11/01/98

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