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Watch now: Honored youngsters help foster love of reading among their peers
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DECATUR PUBLIC LIBRARY

Watch now: Honored youngsters help foster love of reading among their peers

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Bryant Wallace 3 10.17.20.JPG

Bryant Wallace and his father, Blake Wallace, look for books in the Children's Library at the Decatur Public Library. The Decatur Public Library features a Reader of the Week. The program helps kids show pride in their accomplishment and the parents see a boost in the children’s reading.

DECATUR — The librarians in the Decatur Public Library Children’s Department are relying on kids to help them with their work.

Neither is complaining about their new roles.

The library recently implemented the Reader of the Week, a spotlight on local readers and their favorite books.

Blake Wallace’s 5-year-old son Bryant was one of the first children to receive the honor of Reader of the Week.

“You’re doing librarian work,” librarian assistant Susan Bishop told the youngster during a recent visit to the library.

The special recognition includes the children’s images and profiles on the library’s website and a listing of suggested favorite books.

“It’s a nice way to highlight the kids in the community that are interested in reading,” Wallace said.

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Bryant Wallace and his father, Blak,e talk with Children's Library assistant Susan Bishop at the Decatur Public Library. 

The kindergartener would have attended Johns Hill School this year. Since he has yet to be in a classroom, Bryant is learning what he can virtually, as well as through the books he checks out and in his own library.

“We work with him at home,” his dad said. “But we were looking forward to him getting in the classroom set-up for social reasons.”

According to Wallace, Bryant wanted to be calm when he found out he was chosen as Reader of the Week.

“He tries to play it cool,” Wallace said. “But once grandma called and some aunts and uncles called, he got pretty excited. He thought he was a superstar.”

The honor motivated him even more.

“He was more excited about getting more books,” Wallace said. “It made him want to dive deeper into reading.”

The Decatur Public Library Children’s Department staff created the Reader of the Week website to highlight their audience, as well as the books.

“When kids hear from other kids what they’ve enjoyed reading, it has a different kind of impact,” Bishop said.

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Bryant Wallace looks for books in the Children's Department at the Decatur Public Library. The 5-year-old was recently named a Reader of the Week. The honor celebrates the love of reading.

The program began in July. Each week the staff chooses one or two children to be featured. Other children can select the Reader of the Week’s favorite books through the library’s website.

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To be chosen for Reader of the Week, families submit information including the child’s name, photo, age and school, other interests and a list of five to 10 of his or her favorite books. Ages range from toddler to 14 years old.

“They can be reading or just listening to books,” Bishop said.

Bedtime is an important reading time for the Wallace family. Some of Bryant’s favorites include the popular Dr. Seuss classics, “Good Night Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown, “Corduroy” by Don Freeman, and “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak.

“When Grandma gives you a lemon tree,” by Jamie L. B. Deenihan, is a new favorite book.

“I learned that I know how to make lemonade,” Bryant said.

The recognition is important to the parents as well. “Any way you can highlight a child for something that’s as good as a reading habit or the children that love to read at an age, where that’s not always the case with some of the electronics, I think it’s awesome,” Wallace said. “And to see his reaction, it really made his day.”

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Seven-year-old Macey McCroskey visits the library once a week. “It’s the highlight of her entire week,” her mother Kara McCroskey said. “And being selected (as Reader of the Week) makes her feel like she belongs.”

The second-grader said she likes to read. “I read more books than anybody I know,” she said. “So this is pretty cool.”

According to Macey’s mother, the little girl was excited about the Reader of the Week recognition and her achievement. “It helps her engage more with reading, with the community and with the librarians,” she said. “She has a very special bond with them.”

Macey kept up with her reading during the summer and the pandemic. The library provided her a place to go and stay connected to reading. As a home-schooler, the library is also a resource for her education and socialization.

Macey's favorite books include Magic Tree House books, Geronimo Stilton books and baking books. She also studied some of the other honorees’ lists.

“We’re always looking for interesting new books at her grade level,” Kara McCroskey said.

Bryant Wallace 2 10.17.20.JPG

Bryant Wallace and his father, Blake Wallace, look for books in the Children's Library at the Decatur Public Library. The Decatur Public Library features a Reader of the Week. The program helps kids show pride in their accomplishment and the parents see a boost in the children’s reading.

Bryant understands the importance of his new role, but the 5-year-old doesn’t take it too seriously.

“I just like reading,” he said.


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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR

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