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Books bond students, guest readers
Read Across Liberty focuses on literacy
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Chief Deputy Keith Moran reads to Sherry Townsends first grade class on Friday during Read Across Liberty. - photo by Seraine Page

On Friday, United Way of the Coastal Empire and the Kiwanis Club partnered together for the fourth annual Read Across Liberty program, which supplies students with one free book and guest readers to visit classrooms.
Throughout the county, the Kiwanis Club distributed 1,910 books to students in Head Start through fourth grade.
“One of the missions of United Way of the Coastal Empire is to support programs that encourage youth development and education. Read Across Liberty is a remarkable program that does just that,” said Jennifer Darsey, executive director of UWCE. “The biggest thing we want children to get out of this program is a sense of community. From law enforcement officers, to city and county officials, retired educators, bankers, engineers, social workers and other professionals throughout Liberty County, we want our children to know that this community cares and is willing to take time out of their busy schedules to just ‘sit a spell’ and read.”
UWCE organized for more than 100 volunteers to read at elementary schools across Liberty County throughout the day on Friday.    
Taylors Creek Elementary had several special guests drop by, including Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Keith Moran, who claimed he was nervous before reading to a third-grade class.
“I was nervous,” Moran said after reading to Sherry Townsend’s class. “I love it because they interact, their looks on their faces. It was fun. It’s fun once you get started and see how attentive they are.”
Moran read two books, including one about air quality and the importance of clean air. Assistant Principal Kathy Moody sat in to listen while Moran read to 14 children and asked the students about how they thought the chief deputy did after the reading.
“I notice that he expressed himself and told us facts,” student Kayla Hutton said when Moody called on her. 
After the reading, students were allowed to select one of the donated books from a pile supplied by the Kiwanis Club. Townsend’s class had an opportunity to choose from book series such as “The Magic School Bus” and “A to Z Mysteries.”
Kiwanis Club members all agreed that their favorite part of the event is just being around the students and getting the community involved with showing students how important reading is now and for the future.
Moody said having guest readers visit gives students an opportunity to familiarize themselves with reading in ways other than the typical classroom setting, and it gets students excited about the important skill, especially with the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests this week, which tests reading and comprehension skills.
“With reading being so important, this is just a good opportunity for community volunteers to show their love for reading and interact with the children,” Moody said. “My favorite part about having someone come in like Chief Moran is he was a great model for reading today. He read fluently; he read with expression.”

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