Children’s librarian: Want your kids to read? Let them choose

Published 1:54 am Thursday, March 7, 2019

With today being World Book Day, Andalusia Public Library’s Children’s librarian Caryl Lee Ray said that without reading, children would struggle in every aspect of life.

“If you don’t read, then you can’t do anything in this world,” Ray said. “When I was teaching school, the ones that struggled with reading, also struggled with history, science, they struggle with everything. Then you get to math and you get the word problems and you can’t do those either. Reading encompasses everything.”

Ray said that what she usually finds with kids who don’t read, it’s not that they can’t, but that they haven’t found something that they enjoy reading.

“As a librarian, that is what I do,” Ray said. “I have to find them a book that will turn them on to what they want to read. We have to make this a happy place, so they want to come back. Think of it as a restaurant, if you get a waitress that is mean and snarky, you won’t want to come back, right? Well, that’s why I have to be warm and inviting and able to drop a song at the drop of a hat, so they will want to come back.”

Ray is well known for her story time on Fridays and she believes that story time is helping younger kids with reading skills.

“When you first start out, you can watch them start out with the little hard books and then move on to chapter books,” Ray said. “They say that a 1,000 hours of lap time is needed to compensate app time, because the whole process of sitting them on their lap and reading a book to them or letting them read a book is more involving then being stuck on a screen.”

Whether parents read books with their children, or read with them on electronic devices like a Kindle, Ray said that reading is reading.

“If you can read, I am happy with it,” Ray said. “When a parent calls me and says that their kid isn’t reading, I usually tell them to go to Wal-Mart, go to the book aisle and just let their kid pick out whatever they want. If a little girl picks up a hairstyle magazine then let her pick it, if a little boy picks up a car magazine then let them get it, because at least they are reading.”

Ray said that books can be used as a way to commemorate somebody and that people usually forget that.

“Every now and then I will pick up a book and it will say, ‘Dedicated to…’ I don’t think people realize that they can do that,” Ray said. “It is something more than just donating so and so’s old books. Don’t give me her Reader’s Digest. You can donate books in memory of somebody and it is going to stay here. It will get a little plaque in the front that says, ‘In Memory of…’ Same thing with children’s books, because there are several in the library now that have stickers on them that are dedicated by a kid and even my boys will come in and flip through the pages and remember that book.”

Though there are several ways to find books online, Ray said that the public library is utilized more than ever.

“This place is utilized by the public everyday,” Ray said. “When we had Hurricane Michael, the people that were displaced came here to use the computers. The homeschooled people came here to use the children’s department to get their school work done. They used the puppet shows for their kids to interact with. We have people come in here all the time from other places to do their genealogy. This place is used for people trying to find jobs, homeless people, people getting proctored during tests, the list goes on and on. I would say that on average we get around 100 people in this library a day.”