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Jones County plans to improve literacy

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    Amy Marlowe, literacy specialist, poses for a photo with the Summer Super Readers from the Jones County Pre-K. CONTRIBUTED

Jones County schools have a lot planned over the school year for literacy, and even during the summer, the schools never stopped their focus on helping students improve their literacy skills.

Amy Marlowe, Literacy Specialist for Jones County Schools, said they have a lot planned for the upcoming school year to help students improve their literacy skills. She said they plan to do as much as possible, and hopefully do even more events than planned.

“We’re aware September is National Literacy Month, but it’s always literacy month in Jones County,” she said. “We have a lot coming up this year to promote literacy without doing anything this September.”

She said before school started, they worked on a modified version of summer reading for students due to COVID-19. She said the students kept a log of books they read and turned them in at the end of summer. She said students from each school read a lot of books and they should be proud of that.

“The students who were receiving lunches this summer were allowed to choose books, and we included some of those books in the back to school backpacks. We gave the students about 2,000 books in all from that, so we really worked hard this summer to make sure students got books, the literacy specialist said.

Marlowe said they wanted to keep books in the hands of children over the summer, so she made sure the little libraries around Jones County had plenty of books. She said she put around 1,500 books in them in total. She said now that the school year has started, they want to do even more to increase literacy.

“Oct. 29 is Read for the Record, and the elementary schools participate in that,” Marlowe said. “It’s a national event, and we are using one book. The book is called Evelyn Del Rey is Moving Away. The entire nation reads the book, and you tell how many people read at that site.”

The literacy specialist said it will be Jones County’s third year participating in Read for the Record. She said the event may look different this year because of COVID-19, but they will still go ahead with the event.

She said Feb. 3 is World Read Aloud Day, and she plans on having that event at all the schools. She said they are also expanding the Read Across Jones event, which takes place March 1 through March 5.

“Last year we had quite a few community volunteers to read aloud on video,” she said. “We have archived those videos on YouTube, but the goal is to add more and expand the event a little more into the community.”

Marlowe said the district has two big writing events planned for the school year, too. Daughters of the American Revolution essay contest for grades fifth through eighth, and the Young Georgia Authors Competition for all grades are those two events.

“We’re not at 100 percent proficient readers, but we’ve made so much progress in Jones County over the past five years. Literacy is vital because if you can’t read, then you can’t vote, read road signs or read a menu. Children need these literacy skills,” Marlowe said.

The literacy specialist said students can continue to improve their literacy skills by visiting the library, participating in the Accelerated Reader Program and reading random things around the home. She said even before children know how to write, it’s important for them to know how to hold a pencil and just scribble.

“In the womb children are hearing your voice,” she said. “Even though children won’t know the words or what you’re reading, reading to them in th womb or as babies may help to increase their literacy skills. It’s never too early to start encouraging them.”