International Reading Association studies have shown that children who are introduced to books at an early age test higher in language and communication skills than those who have little exposure to books.
If you visit the Payson Public Library at 10:30 any Wednesday morning, you will see this study in practice. That's when 20 to 35 youngsters from Frontier Preschool gather every week in the children's section to listen to Library Director Terry Morris or librarian Margaret Jesus read children's books.
The children, who range in age from 3 to 5, eagerly take their seats on the floor, eyes turned to the page held out by the reader. Enthusiastically they respond to questions, becoming engrossed in the story. And when the story is over, their eyes are aglow as they bundle up for the walk back to preschool.
Terry's top picks
"Day Late and a Dollar Short" (Terry McMillan) The story of the complicated lives of Viola Price and her estranged husband, who live in Las Vegas, and their four grown children.
"From the Corner of His Eye" (Dean Koontz) A ruthless man, convinced he has a mortal enemy named Bartholomew, stalks a prodigy (Barty) who has lost and then regained his sight.
"Special OPS" (W.E.B. Griffin) The "Brotherhood of War" series continues with a novel about the U.S. Army and Che Guevara.
"First Counsel" (Brad Meltzer) a young White House lawyer who is dating the president's daughter becomes ensnared in a scheme involving betrayal and murder.
"An Hour Before Daylight" (Jimmy Carter) The former president recalls his Depression-era childhood on a Georgia farm.
"Abandon Ship" (Richard Newcomb) The tale of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, which was sunk by a Japanese torpedo in World War II.
"Constantine's Sword" (James Carroll) A history of the relations between the church and the Jews.
"Jazz" (Geoffrey Ward) A history of America's music, based on the documentary series by Ken Burns.
"Olivia" (Ian Falconer) A day or two in the life of a busy little pig.
"Quiltmaker's Gift" (Jeff Brumbeau) A humble seamstress meets a selfish king.
"So You Want to Be President" (Judith St. George) Anecdotes about the men who have occupied the White House.
"Island of the Aunts" (Eva Ibbotson) Caretakers of the Island of the Aunts tend to an amazing assortment of creatures. It's hard work looking after so many. There is only one solution some children must be kidnapped to take over the island.
"Peter and the Wolf" Narrated by Sting with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. A delightful visualization of the Russian composer Prokofiev and his universally beloved musical tale.
"Caddie Woodlaw" Based on the Newbery Award-winning children's classic by Carol Ryrie Brink. Caddie is a spirited 11-year-old, growing up in the wilds of 1860s Wisconsin. She reveals her true maturity when she plays a key role in keeping the peace between settlers and the Dakota Indians.
"The Jolson Story" Starring Larry Parks and Evelyn Keyes, this is a classic Hollywood biography at its best. It is a tune-filled extravaganza following the meteoric rise of legendary performer Al Jolson.
"Spirit Rider," starring Graham Greene. This is the story of 16-year-old Native American Jesse Three Bear. "Parenting" magazine calls it "one of the best videos of the year."
March 1 Dr. Seuss Day. Open house at the library from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served and a special children's program will be presented at 6:30 p.m.
March 12 Richard Wentz, storyteller from Strawberry, will share tales illustrating the story as a means of understanding other cultures. This is part of the regular meeting of the Library Friends of Payson. The meeting will begin at 10:30 a.m. and will be followed by a potluck luncheon.
Editor's note: Shelf Life, written by Library Friends of Payson member Carol Zebb, is a monthly column on library and Library Friends happenings. It appears in the Roundup the last Friday of every month, and features a list of the Payson Public Library's top-10 new book releases selected by the library's director, Terry Morris. The Library Friends of Payson is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising money for the Payson Public Library and library services.