20 Minutes a Day
Makes Reading a Joy
September 17, 2006
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By: Stephen Kent
Over 1,000 parents and kids showed up Saturday for the annual " 20 Minutes a Day" reading festival. Dozens of volunteers handed out gifts, read to groups of kids, and helped with prizes. A large group of favorite cartoon and storybook characters appeared in costume to delight the kids.
The idea for the event started in 1999 when a committee chaired by Noel Eichhorn, then an administrator with Bay City Public Schools, wanted to know what could be done to have more children reading successfully by the end of the third grade. "Those who are not on track by third grade have little chance of ever catching up" said Eichhorn. By the end of kindergarten a child has spent about 700 hours in school but 52,000 hours in the home.
The committee knew that reading had to be part of every child's home life. "We decided on '20 Minutes a Day' as a program name" said Eichhorn. "We set as our goals that parents will read to their children at least 20 minutes a day from the day they are born, and that children who can read will practice reading for at least 20 minutes a day."
With a funding grant from the Bay Area Community Foundation, the committee kicked off their program with a Reading Celebration in Wenona Park in the Fall of 2000. Now all public and private schools are included and have representatives. When Eichhorn retired, Bill Tithof took her place as the representative of the school system. Eichhorn and Tithof co-chair the event.
Saturday's event lasted two hours and included gift bags for the kids, reading sessions scattered around the park, and drawings for lots and lots of prizes. Ronald McDonald House Charities, the major sponsor for the event, sent Ronald himself to act as Master of Ceremonies and give out the prizes as they were drawn.
The day ended with the grand prize of a new bike which was won by six year old Duncan Williams, a student at McAlear-Sawden school.
The Library's own Miss Elizabeth reads Pooh to the kids.
Ronald McDonald, Master of Ceremonies, gives out the prizes
Bill Tithof introduces the storybook and cartoon characters.
Come on Dad! It's MY book.
Hugs from favorite characters was a big hit throughout the park
Kayte, a mixed breed volunteer from Therapy Dogs International, was one of several therapy dogs visiting the event.
Six year old Duncan Williams and his dad Chris receive the grand prize bike from Ronald McDonald. When asked if he already had a bike, Duncan's sister volunteered "Yes, but it has training wheels". Looks like Duncan will be ready to roll as soon as he's on two wheels!
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Steve Kent and his family have lived in Bay City for 40 years. He is VP of Technical Services at MMCC which produces MyBayCity.Com. Kent is active in many Bay City civic organizations.
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