The Service League of Natchitoches welcomed local children to attend Reading on the River this past sunny Saturday, March 6 on the Natchitoches Riverbank. Reading on the River is the organization’s annual free literacy event promoting the importance and enjoyment of reading outside the classroom. Each child picked out several books to take home and enjoy fun activities and crafts at the 22 different booths lined up down the riverbank.
Children visited the Natchitoches Parish Book Mobile, played soccer with NSU players, visited puppies at the Natchitoches Human Society tent, got their face painted and received fake wounds from the Natchitoches Regional Medical Center wound care center. One of the main features of the day was the “Read with Leaders” tent where community leaders read stories aloud to kids. The local leaders who participated were NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio and wife, Jennifer; Natchitoches Parish President John Richmond and his wife, Kathy; Natchitoches Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr.; Natchitoches Fire Department Chief John Wynn and Sparky the Fire Dog; and Andy Field, a voice actor.
Currently, 63% of fourth graders read below grade level. Sadly, children who aren’t reading at grade level by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school, limiting their life opportunities. Increasing familiarity with books and language early in a child’s life can help address the literacy crisis. The Service League’s goal for this event is to unite with community partners and encourage a new generation of young readers by exposing them to the wonderful world of books. Everyone who attended had a great time, according to the League.