Debra Jo Hailey is coordinator for the program, which engages volunteers from several of NSU’s academic departments, Greek organizations and honor societies who read and present books to children.
More than 1,000 books were given to children who attended the event, which is free and open to the public.
“This money will allow us to do some things that we have not been able to do in the past,” Hailey said. “Participants will see at least one visiting author from out of town and we will have professional color hand-outs for parents and a catchy advertising jingle on local radio stations.
“ In addition, we will have a greater internet presence in the form of a website and improved activities because we can reimburse presenters for educational materials.”
During the event in April, children and parents not only were audience to stories read aloud by Northwestern State faculty and students, but were also led in creating self-illustrated books and other activities that support literacy skills.
“Last spring’s event would not have had nearly the impact that it did without the participation of the NSU academic community,” said Pat Alexander, supervisor of the NSU Head Start Center and assistant coordinator of Reading on the River. Teachers and other professionals used developmentally appropriate teaching methods to engage children and their parents in activities that entertained and educated.”
Parents were given reinforcement so they could easily mimic those methods at home, Alexander said. In addition, each gift book contained a Quick Response Code to connect parents to the Reading on the River Facebook page, which provided additional links to resources and information.
Reading on the River takes place every spring on the riverbank in downtown Natchitoches.