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Elmsford's Dixon Making Children "Born to Read"

ELMSFORD, N.Y. – Children huddled on a carpet, listening to their storytellers. With each line read, the children repeated the words back with gusto, their eyes glued to the book.

" Born to Read ," held at Carl L. Dixon Primary School, gathered nearly 40 families of children under the age of 4, encouraging the kids to hear what words sound like during story time. The Elmsford Union-Free School District strives to increase pre-literacy by reaching out to students, helping them to speak before they can read.

"We're finding that a lot of our kids, when they come to school, don't know their letters or sounds," said Katie Buonassisi, chairwoman of the Born to Read Committee. "They've never held a book before. They don't have books at home."

Since 2008, Buonassisi and the "Born to Read" committee have held three events per year. When they began four years ago, nearly 20 families attended each event. In recent years, the events continuously pull in over 40 families.

"The idea and name of 'Born to Read' is starting to become more well-known," said Buonassisi. "So I think as that happens, more families are getting involved."

Buonassisi provides parents with a check list of educational things that should be in the home and fun things a family can do with books.

"We want to expose them to let them know that these resources are available and free and important to a child's education," she said.

An Ardsley librarian was also on hand to inspire the children to check out books from the library.

"We're trying to bring the librarian right to the families," said Buonassisi. "A lot of families don't know to go there to get a card."

At the end of the night, the children indulged in a book swap, where they searched through piles of books for the one they liked best. In addition, a raffle occurred where the winners took home special books or a Barnes & Noble gift card.

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