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‘Reading to Lead’ at Forest Park Community Center

3/8/2017, 2:22 p.m.
Joliet Job Corps students stopped by the Forest Park Community Center recently to read to students.
Joliet Job Corps Center student Terrance Rodgers reads to the preschoolers at the Forest Park Community Center.

Terrance Rogers opened the book and turned to the first page. The four small children looked at him, waiting. Rogers began.

“At the far end of town where the Grickle-grass grows,” he said, reading the first two lines of “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss.

Rogers, 18, of Sauk Village, Ill., is enrolled at the Joliet Job Corps Center and earning a high school diploma while also pursuing a career in the security industry. And that was the beginning of the Joliet Job Corps Center’s Reading To Lead event on March 1 at the Forest Park Community Center, 1017 Woodruff Road in Joliet.

Rogers and Bobbie Johnson, 18, of Lockport, another Joliet Job Corps Center student, had come to the community center to read books to the preschool class.

“I love to have people read to our children,” said Bettye Gavin, the executive director of the community center and a Joliet City Councilwoman.

“It helps them learn to appreciate books and reading.” Reading To Lead is a Job Corps initiative to highlight the importance of reading for the program’s students across the country.

Reading To Lead is a companion event to Read Across America Day which is held annually in March. To promote reading comprehension at the Joliet Job Corps Center, academic instructor Michelle Cvitanovich has organized a weekly book club. The students recently began “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” by Ken Kesey.

“As a reading teacher, I felt that a lot of the students were struggling with reading comprehension,” Cvitanovich said. “I thought if they could connect enjoyment with reading that their skills would improve.”

But the four preschoolers at the Forest Park Community Center weren’t thinking about those things. They simply enjoyed the story of the Lorax, the Once-ler and the Truffula Trees. When Rodgers finished “The Lorax,” he asked the children if they would like to hear another story. After they nodded, he picked up the next book.