Librarian preparing for next chapter

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Every child in Putnam County having a shelf filled with books and having an adult to read to them is one of Putnam County Children's Librarian Suzanne Hall's wishes.

Hall has been the children's librarian for the past seven years and will be retiring at the end of May.

"This has been my best job ever. Greencastle is a great place to work," said Hall. She came to Putnam County when her husband accepted a position at DePauw University. Prior to that she was a librarian in New Jersey and Ohio.

Hall has been a proponent of getting kids to read for a very long time.

"I want to get books into the hands of kids and families. It's such a wonderful way to bond with your child," she said. "Reading doesn't have to cost anything but a little time. Kids grow so fast. When you have small children you always think your life is going to include them, but they grow up fast, so grab a book and read to them."

Hall knows about growing up fast. Her own three kids are grown and she finds herself buying a lot of books for her grandchildren.

One of the reasons she is retiring is to return to Tennessee to help care for her mother who is 90 years old.

"I think it's my turn to be there," she explained. Her husband is already retired and the two are "ready to move and see what happens."

Hall says she will really miss Greencastle and her small visitors to the library.

"I love it here. I had never lived in a town this small before. I live four blocks from the library and can walk to and from work as well as for lunch," said Hall. "We are surrounded by so much natural beauty. We love to hike and take in all the surroundings."

Hall is passionate about books. She talked about her favorite Clementine series and how important it is to get kids to read and keep them reading, especially over the summer.

She is quick to pull out statistics that show children who read as little as 15 minutes each day during the summer advance their reading levels.

Those who don't read during the summer months can slide backward by about two months from the end of the school year.

She tells parents to make reading part of their toddler's regular daily routine, even if only for a few minutes.

She suggests reciting nursery rhymes and singing songs to help develop language skills and to ask questions of their toddlers as they are read to or are reading.

"Ask what will happen next or why do you think he did that? This all helps develop vocabulary but also listening, comprehension and reading skills," she said.

Statistics show that children gain considerable knowledge about written language between birth and age 6.

"Parents directly and indirectly affect the development of reading skills," she said.

In the United States about 43 percent of adults with very low literacy skills live in poverty and 70 percent have no job or only a part-time job.

Half of all adults in prison cannot read or write, and 85 percent of juvenile offenders have reading problems.

"More than 88 percent of children who have difficulty reading at the end of first grade will have similar difficulties at the end of fourth grade," said Hall.

"I wish more people would take advantage of the library. The staff is so dedicated and ready to try to help patrons in any way they can. And, when families come to the library, they get to know books. When they have a good experience it's something they will want to do again and again," she said.

As far as leaving the library, Hall wishes that more people would come and discover all the wonders it offers.

"She will be missed by all," agreed her coworkers.

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