Conference Aims to Promote Early Reading Start

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Humanities Council held a statewide reading instructors training conference Friday at Stoney Creek Inn to train facilitators for its "Read From the Start" program. The conference continues Saturday and focuses on encouraging reading and developing new programs.

"Read From the Start" is a two-session workshop sponsored by the council. The workshop takes place 165 times per year around the state. The program's goal is to help parents of children under the age of five read to their children. Each session is an hour and a half and parents can take home seven books to read to their child.

The Missouri Humanities Council also runs the program "Read First." This program is an outreach effort initiated in 2008 for ten small towns in Missouri. The council provides grants and books for childcare providers to encourage reading and education.

This weekend's instructor conference consists of training and workshops for all of the program's facilitators. Facilitators share ideas and activities to improve the program.

With the struggling economy, record numbers of requests for help with reading have been received.

Julie Douglas, family programs director, said the goal of this weekend's training is to get re-energized and excited about "Read From the Start."

"Reading is the most important thing for a young child. It builds their brain, increases language skills and creates a bond between the parent and the child," Douglas said.

Program Facilitator Steve Otto believes in the imporance of storytelling and reading in order for children to become successful and educated. "There's just no other way to learn," Otto said.