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Local public library helping to improve literacy for area students

Published: Sep. 20, 2021 at 10:20 PM CDT
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JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Literacy skills are on the rise for students in Pre-K through third grade.

That’s according to the Mississippi Department of Education. This means students are becoming better readers and writers.

But many agencies are making strides to help children become stronger learners. Some of those are in Jones County.

“We fight a constant battle with our students and their ability to master reading,” says Jones County Schools Superintendent Tommy Parker.

The state department of education says literacy skills are increasing across Mississippi, but we’re told many students still slip through the cracks.

“We even have students that can call words, but they don’t know the meaning of those words. They can sound the words out; they can pronounce the words... But just not only teaching that part of reading but understanding what you read continues after third grade,” Parker says.

Parker says JCSD students struggle the most in reading and math. But the district is putting plans in place to help, including implementing four-year-old kindergarten district-wide.

“We think that’s the key to just improving education in general in Mississippi to get our hands on those young children at an early age so that we can teach them and head them in the right direction,” says Parker.

The Laurel-Jones County Public Library System is making strides, too. It offers a phonetics-based program to encourage literacy.

“We have one little boy, he knows three site words and he was going into junior high. And after two weeks, he was up to 80 site words, so it’s a great program,” says Michelle Jones-Anderson, Ellisville Branch Manager for the library system.

Jones County residents are also stepping up to create stronger readers. Community members raised roughly $20,000 to renovate the library’s children’s areas.

“One of the main reasons we wanted to renovate both the children’s areas was to bring children in. If you begin when they’re small and teach them the love of learning and reading, it stays with them forever,” Jones-Anderson says. “And the library, you can go in there in the library and it can take you anywhere you want to go without ever leaving where you’re sitting.”

The library still needs to raise more money to complete the renovations.

To help in the effort, a book sale is being held Tuesday at the Laurel library location from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. There will be books starting at $0.25 with the top price being $2.

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