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READING: The ABC's of helping youngsters achieve literacy--the
first skill.

Discovering Books

When The Reading Light Went On

April 04, 1999|Shirley Russell | former schoolteacher and owner of Catch Our Rainbow children's bookstore in Torrance

As a child I used to do a lot of reading of picture books and chapter books like the Nancy Drew series. I could lose myself in the story and enjoy the adventure of whatever the story was about.

To this day I still lose myself in stories I can relate to. If I can't relate to it in some way, then I don't particularly like it. And it has to have a certain amount of thought and meaning and value.

I just finished reading a book about a homeless boy. I'm not homeless but I could relate to certain things in it like the emotions the boy was feeling, the helplessness and the will to survive. If I can put myself into the story like that, then I like the story a lot.

I opened up a children's bookstore because I saw there was a need in the community for one. Before that, I taught primary grades for 27 years. Then I joined with two friends to run a program to improve children's self-esteem. We used books to help them.

We realized as teachers that children lacked self-esteem. We decided that we could teach parents and teachers how to encourage children. Part of that was by resolving problems with books. Sometimes it's a lot easier to talk to a child through a book.

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