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STARR program brings reading to pre-schoolers

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

SPRINGFIELD Are you ready to be a STARR? If so, the Springfield City Library wants to hear from you.

"STARR" is an acronym for "Springfield Tots Are Ready to Read," a pre-school literacy program that relies on volunteers.

The library is looking for volunteers to read to children two to four hours a month in locations throughout the city. There will be a full day of orientation and training on Sept. 14 and 15 at the Central Branch on State Street.

Holly Farrar, the WIC community coordinator at the Mason Square office of the Springfield North WIC program, said the agency hosts two volunteers, Sandy Deyo and Annette Davis-Harris every Tuesday morning from 10 to 11 a.m.

Jim Ireland, the WIC program's director, was inspired to host a literacy program after attending a conference last year and contacted Jean Canosa Albano at the library. Collaborating with Albano, they developed a program that started in January.

Farrar said the two volunteers do more than read to the children. They have a bag of puppets and Deyo plays several musical instruments. Davis-Harris sings.

"The parents sing along, too," Farrar said.

As part of the program all of the children attending a session receive a free book.

Deyo has been a library volunteer for two years. She started reading to first through third grade students in the city's public schools and then changed to the STARR program.

She said that reading was " a gift my mother gave to me. I love to read."

Deyo said that she gets as much out of the program as do the children.

She said that with so many other entertainment choices, children need to know how important it is to read.

For more information on the orientation program, contact Albano at 263-6828, ext. 291.