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Lifelong learning at the library

Mehreen Shahid

By Mehreen Shahid, Orillia Packet & Times

Grades 1 to 3 students from Monsignor Lee Catholic School are pictured at Orillia Public Library, where the Canadian children's author Helaine Becker treated them to a morning of storytelling. For the full story, see page A3. MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES

Grades 1 to 3 students from Monsignor Lee Catholic School are pictured at Orillia Public Library, where the Canadian children's author Helaine Becker treated them to a morning of storytelling. For the full story, see page A3. MEHREEN SHAHID/THE PACKET & TIMES

Screams of laughter rang out from kids in the program room at the Orillia Public Library as a Canadian author read out her ode to underwear.

"Let's hear it for our underwear! Our fun-to-wear best underwear. It keeps us warm and dry down there," read Helaine Becker, sharing her poem Tuesday morning with students of Grades 1 to 3 from Monsignor Lee Catholic School.

The author of Deck the Halls, Monster Science and her latest book, You Can Read, went on to talk to kids about the importance of reading and literacy.

"You can read anywhere and everywhere," said Becker, addressing the giggly youngsters, "even on your toilet seat!"

She spent the morning at the library as part of the Georgian College sponsored annual author event at the library.

"What I try to get across to kids is they should never give up on themselves," said Becker, in an interview. "There are always other people who are willing and eager to tell you that you're never going to succeed. And they're all wrong.

"As long as you are willing to do the work, you can succeed at anything you try," she added.

College staff were on hand to give out 30 books to the attending classes and were headed to Orillia Central Preschool and West Ridge Early Education Centre to give out 20 more books, bringing the total to 50, the number of years Georgian College has been around.

Becker was also headed to the local campus to talk to early childhood education students about the importance of literacy and reading for children.

"To future teachers, I would say, learning is a lifelong thing," she said. "If you want to be a teacher, you have to be prepared to stay on that learning curve for life. You cannot expect to teach and not be learning at the same time."

Students take a course called experiences in language arts, said Heather Hill, co-ordinator of the program, that aims at instilling the importance of language development and literacy among them.

"Students come here to the library for placements," she said, "and we wanted to use this as the community forum to get as many students as possible. It was great for us to be able to do it."

Becker hoped her talk would tell kids why reading is fun and useful, and in turn help teachers encourage the habit.

"Reading gives you power," she said. "If you have the ability to read, you get power not only over your own life but on everything, because you can convince other people to do things with the knowledge you learn."

mshahid@postmedia.com

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