02/22/12 — StageStruck collecting books for kids

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StageStruck collecting books for kids

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on February 22, 2012 1:46 PM

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Lauren Tucker, program coordinator for Reach Out and Read, holds books that have been donated. The group is partnering with StageStruck to collect gently-used and new books during the upcoming performances of "Seussical" March 1 through 4 at the Paramount Theatre.

Since StageStruck's upcoming "Seussical" play is based on a book, the cast and crew decided to perform a community service project as well. And what better project, they concluded, than donating new and used books to a program that promotes literacy among children.

"The Reach Out and Read program goes along with our theme and is such an important outreach," said Susie Daniels, co-producer of "Seussical." "We wanted to stress the importance of reading in a child's life."

And that's what Reach Out and Read does, said Lauren Claiborne Tucker, its program coordinator.

The local program began in 2003 at Goldsboro Pediatrics. Since then, it has also been implemented at Mount Olive Pediatrics, Princeton Pediatrics and LaGrange Pediatrics.

"We use the donated books in our waiting and exam rooms at all four locations," Mrs. Tucker said. "We put them there to help model for parents and guardians for their children the joy of reading.

"It helps promote literacy in children. The number of children just locally who do not have access to books is just out of this world."

Used books are placed in the pediatrics offices for children to read while waiting for appointments.

New books are given to each child on his or her physical exam visits at 6, 12 and 18 months and 2, 3, 4 and 5 years.

"But a lot of times, those children have siblings who come in, too." Mrs. Tucker said. "When you give a 2-year-old a book and there's a 3-year-old sibling, you need to give a book to that child as well."

So brothers and sisters get their own used book to take home.

Mrs. Tucker has seen children come to the pediatric office who have no books at home.

"You just never know when you may be starting a career for a child who could be a doctor or a lawyer or president," Mrs. Tucker said. "It broadens their horizons. It expands their vocabulary and when they enter kindergarten, studies have shown that children who receive books from our program enter kindergarten at a higher intellectual level."

Even a picture book can help.

"It doesn't actually have to be a book with words," Mrs. Tucker said. "A picture book stimulates their imagination. Being able to look at something and being able to relate it to something else will help broaden their mind. It makes their mind grow."

StageStruck's cast members are collecting gently used books for Reach Out and Read at its building at 121 W. Chestnut St. StageStruck will also accept new and used books during each performance of "Seussical" March 1-4 at the Paramount Theatre.

"We would love for the Paramount lobby to be full of books," Mrs. Daniels said.

Monetary donations also are being accepted.

There will also be a drawing for a colorful, whimsical bookcase that will be at the Paramount to hold donated books.

"Donating a book will brighten the future of our children," Mrs. Tucker said. "Just opening a book with a child can do more than you could ever possibly imagine."