Reading To Your Community

By Tom Kiurski

If you’re reading this article, you most likely enjoy reading, and if so, you probably already know that March is National Reading Month. You can spread the joy of reading to the children of your community by participating in such activities as school reading events, book fairs, library promotions, and book collection drives. In addition, local sports personalities can lend their talents by recording Public Service Announcements (PSAs) to help promote the events.

The wide variety of media available to children today makes reading less desirable than it was years ago. Face it, a good game on Play Station or X-Box where the child controls the way the game ends seems so much more exciting than reading a book. We need to make ourselves available to children to let them know how important it is to read, and how much they can enjoy it.

Getting into classrooms during March is usually easy since most schools look for “guest readers” throughout the month. Call ahead to an area school, or the school that your children/nieces/nephews/etc. attend, and let them know you are willing to read to a class. Most schools won’t require more than a half hour of your time.

A common format includes introducing yourself to the class, giving a short account of how important reading is to your job (e.g., SOGs, EMS reports, trade magazines such as Fire Engineering to keep current, etc.), then reading for a short time to the class. There are usually books in the classroom for you to read, or you can bring one of your own. I prefer to bring along an assortment of books that include messages on fire safety. Some short books that work great for lower elementary classes and can be completed in a short period of time include, “Sesame Street Visits the Firehouse” and “No Dragons for Tea”.

After reading, you can take a few moments to answer questions and tell the class about what you like to read when you are not at work and why. Before walking away, thank the class for allowing you to share a favorite story with them, and pass something out for them to bring home such as a fire safety bookmark. Bookmarks can be commercially purchased, or you can have some fun by designing your own and having the artwork placed on a master for a printer to print and cut. Check with your local school’s printing department since it may do printing jobs for the fire department at a reduced price.

Now go read!

Tom Kiurski is a lieutenant, a paramedic, and the director of fire safety education for Livonia (MI) Fire & Rescue. His book, Creating a Fire-Safe Community: A Guide for Fire Safety Educators (Fire Engineering, 1999) is a guide for bringing the safety message to all segments of the community efficiently and economically.

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