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Region Stories

These stories illustrate how early childhood programs and services funded by First Things First make a difference for young children and families in communities across Arizona.

Safford siblings discover love of reading through library story time

When Alexandra Scott became a mother, she searched for a program that would help her son’s development while instilling in him a love of reading. 

She found it in Story Time at the Safford City-Graham County Library, where the family’s visits soon became a weekly ritual. Scott’s son Maverick and later, daughter Lydia, have participated in the early literacy program as babies, as toddlers and as preschoolers. 

“I loved reading when I was growing up, and I wanted my kids to love reading,” Scott said. Library programs like Story Time “definitely foster that, too.”

The First Things First Graham/Greenlee Regional Partnership Council funds Story Time at the Library and similar programs to help families nurture language development and a love of reading in children from birth to age 5. 

Maverick is now 8, but he still likes to join his 5-year-old sister in Story Time during summer break from school, when older siblings can participate. Along with other children, the siblings enjoy play time, they read books and they sing songs, Scott said.

And just like their mother had hoped, both Lydia and Maverick thoroughly enjoy children’s books – and not just when they go to the library. In fact, not a day goes by that they don’t open a book at home, their mother said. 

“Both my kids have their own bookshelves in their bedrooms full of books,” she said. “Lydia is not quite reading yet, but she knows her letters. She knows most of the letter sounds and she can write her own name.”

Her daughter may not read yet, but books spark her imagination. 

“She likes to look at the books, and then if she can remember the story because it’s one we’ve read a lot, she’ll tell herself the story,” Scott said. “But if it’s one we haven’t read, she’ll just make up a story based on the pictures.”

Story Time has been an important ally in her children’s development of early literacy and language skills, Scott said. She believes the program gives an edge to children before they start school, so she’s confident that when Lydia enters kindergarten in the fall, she will be a keen learner. 

Maverick, who will be a third-grader in the fall, has done well in school since kindergarten. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Scott homeschooled him that year, and then he entered public school the following academic cycle. In her first parent-teacher conference, Scott learned he was thriving in school – his reading skills were particularly strong. 

“I really think the library Story Time helped set us up for success,” Scott said, “And all the reading that we did, I really think it was very beneficial to my kids.”

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