By Literacy Foundation
Waukegan, IL – Waukegan Public Library welcomed Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White to Waukegan on Thursday, November 15 for a celebration of reading. The Family Reading Night program is a statewide bilingual storytime and craft event and is hosted annually by libraries across
Illinois. Children had the opportunity to meet White, ask questions, and receive books from the Illinois Literacy Foundation. During the event, local families learned about the importance of reading together and their local library. They even had a chance to meet the library’s pet bearded dragon.
“Reading prepares you to be a good citizen,” White said, speaking to the group of children, parents and elected officials. Previous reading programs at the library have encouraged children and their parents to use books as a way to expand children’s experiences of the world. The library’s 2019 winter reading club asks children to learn about different holidays through reading.
“We believe that reading is a great way to understand and celebrate the diversity of our community,” said Selina Gomez-Beloz, executive director, echoing White’s sentiments. “We’re honored to host Secretary White and appreciate his commitment to our services for children and especially for adults.” The library’s Adult Literacy Tutoring program, which is the only librarybased program in Lake County to be funded through an Illinois Secretary of State grant, uses oneto-one and small group formats to help adults testing below the 9th grade level to make measurable gains in their reading, writing and/or math skills. In turn, this leads to improved economic, professional and personal outcomes.
White left the children with some thoughts about reaching goals, talking to them about how important it is to persevere through challenges. “If someone tells you that you can’t achieve something, you say – ‘just watch me!’” White said, earning applause from the little ones in the front row. He noted that it’s the role of parents and community members to work together to help kids reach their dreams, and that family activities, like reading, can be part of that work.
Secretary White and Waukegan Public Library reference assistant Diana Wence with some of the children who participated in the event. /Photo: Coutesy Colleen Erbach/ISS