Public library helps children grow

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The SELMA Times-Journal

The more you read, the more you know.

The more you know, the more you grow.

Last year, 850 first grade students proudly recited this tiny poem after receiving their very first library card at the Selma Public Library. This year, 900 more students will recite these words at the second annual &8220;Welcome To Your Public Library&8221; Program.

A collaboration among the Selma Public Library, the Alabama Public Library Service, Dallas County and Selma City Schools, Vaughan Community Health Services, the United Way and Health Link, the program will run every Tuesday and Thursday through Christmas starting Oct. 28.

The mission of the program is to introduce children to the joys of reading and the resources available to them at the library at an impressionable age.

Buses from area schools will shuttle students to the library for a day of fun and learning.

Becky Nichols, director of the Selma Public Library and head of the Children’s Library, said there is no program in the state that compares to &8220;Welcome To Your Public Library.&8221; The sparkle she sees in children’s eyes once they set foot in the library has been worth all the effort she and countless others have poured into the program.

Students receive a base library card as well as a small key chain card during the visit. The key chain cards are placed on lanyards for the students to wear around their necks. Students are then able decorate their lanyards with beads in any color they desire. Nichols said the beads are by far the most exciting part for the children.

The students are also given packets that are filled with several goodies, including crayons,

a lollipop, and a coloring and activity book titled &8220;Eat Right and Keep Active For Good Health.&8221; Not only does the program strive to improve the mind, it strives to improve the body as well, Nichols said.

As the day draws to a close, Nichols practices with the children on what they will tell their parents about their time at the library.

Nichols knows that parents may have difficulty setting aside an hour or two for their child to visit the library, but she believes the benefits of doing so will be tremendous.

Gwen Carrington, reading coordinator for Dallas County Schools, applauds the program and hopes it will remain a mainstay for years to come.

Nichols hopes that once students are exposed to the knowledge

that awaits them, the library will become a home away from home.