• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Author visiting schools this week for Woodford READS

MARCIA THORNTON JONES, a children’s book author, will read to students at all four public elementary schools during Woodford READS on March 1 and March 2. Jones will also have a book signing at the Woodford County Library at 3:30 p.m. on March 2. (Photo submitted)

Lexington author Marcia Thornton Jones will be visiting elementary schools and reading from her children’s book, “Champ,” when she comes here for Woodford READS on March 1 and 2.

Students in all four elementary schools (preschool through fifth grade) will receive a copy of Jones’s book to take home and read with their parents. The books were purchased with grant dollars awarded to the Woodford County Educational Endowment Foundation (WEEF).

A $7,000 grant from the Blue Grass Community Foundation allows WEEF to continue its support of Woodford READS (Read, Explore And Discover Success), a childhood literacy program in Woodford County Public Schools. Grant dollars purchased copies of “The Spray-Paint Mystery” for students last November.

Silas Hart, of WEEF, described having an author come to the community so she can read her book to students and visit the public library as the next step in a powerful partnership to support reading in the homes of families.

“It’s just adding another level to (Woodford READS) that I think is really neat,” said schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins. “It will be a great experience for the kids to be able to have an author read to them. I just think it’s a neat opportunity.”

Jones described her upcoming visits to Woodford County schools and a book signing at the Woodford County Public Library as a way to interact with readers so she has a better understanding of how they’re receiving that story.

“So this gives me the opportunity to go and talk with the reader and see … what they’re getting from the story,” said Jones. “And it just kind of closes that circle of communication.”

The energy of being surrounded by her young readers “helps my creativity just knowing a story’s being so well-received by students,” she adds.

Growing up, Jones always enjoyed stories about animals – especially dogs. So “Champ” has a special place in her heart because it was an opportunity to write a dog story.

Her dog story is about always being true to your self instead of trying to please other people, and how there’s more than one way to be a winner. The story was inspired by her love of animals, an article about a dog that lost two legs after being hit by a train and her father’s love for puttering around in the garage.

Jones described her writing career as an extension of her teaching career. “So instead of a small classroom,” she said, “now I have a worldwide classroom (her book, “Champ” was also published in Japan). So this (visiting schools) gives me the opportunity to promote the message of how important reading and writing and creativity is.”

Jones, who started her teaching career in Woodford County, describes coming here as “an extra-special treat.” She taught first grade at St. Leo School and now works with Lexington’s Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning – giving her an appreciation for Woodford READS and its promotion of the joy of reading among families.

“The most important type of homework,” said Jones, “would be just to enjoy reading with your kids.”

She does a workshop and sometimes gives presentations on the value of parents reading with their children. “How to do it and how to make it fun,” she explained.

“And children’s literacy is some of the best literature out there. Because when you write a book for kids,” she added, “you have to make every word count, every sentence count.”

In addition to Woodford READS, WEEF and its volunteers support excellence in public education by sponsoring a variety of performing arts for Woodford County students.

“WEEF has been such a great partner for our school district for 20-plus years,” said Hawkins. He applauded WEEF for always stepping forward to help out the school district and now its families by supporting literacy in the home.

“It’s really special to have a community group want to take such ownership and be a great partner in something that they can really see the value in,” said Hawkins.

After reading a chapter of “Champ” at Simmons and Northside elementary schools on Thursday morning, March 1, Jones will read at Southside and Huntertown on Friday afternoon, March 2, prior to a book signing at the Woodford County Library at 3:30 p.m.

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