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Wisconsin Bookworms gives kids a head start on reading

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
December 18, 2009
— Friendly snowmen paid a visit to a group of kindergarteners at Sharon Elementary School Thursday.

They were brought by Emma Peterson, a volunteer reader who visits the school monthly and reads to the children.


"One winter day I made a snowman," 76-year-old Peterson read Thursday.


The children, mostly 3- to 5-year-olds, could hardly hold their excitement and curiosity.


One girl kept asking '"why" every time something happened in the story. Peterson patiently replied, and the kids listened on.


"They bump into each other 'till they all fall down," she read later.


After the story, Peterson presented each child with the book, "Snowmen at Night."


The Sharon class was part of Head Start, a national program that provides low-income parents and children with education and assistance to give the kids a solid educational foundation.


"They love books," teacher Jaime Holevas said.


Assistant teacher Kathy Haury said children normally do a craft related to the story, which is coordinated with the theme the kids are learning.


After the reading session Thursday, they got to make snowmen out of paper cutouts.


Peterson of Sharon is a volunteer at Wisconsin Bookworms, a non-profit organization that reads and gives out books to children. The program is supported by donations and grants.


Wisconsin Bookworms in May will have distributed half a million books in Wisconsin. They have read to more than 5,000 children, Peterson said.


"Here in Walworth County we have seven sites that we read at, and we have 9 readers," she added


Peterson has been involved with the 12-year-old program since its inception and has read to children for the last nine years.


She received a state award this year for outstanding service with Head Start children and families.


Peterson said working with the children is fulfilling.


One year, she said, a little girl asked Peterson to take her home after every reading session.


"Every year, they have to come up and give you a hug," she said.



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