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Bitten by the bookworm

Emily Savory holds her prize and a certificate of achievement after reading 884 books to complete her reading journal. - photo courtesy of Valerie Parsons
Emily Savory holds her prize and a certificate of achievement after reading 884 books to complete her reading journal. - photo courtesy of Valerie Parsons - Contributed

Four-year-old Emily Savory of Port aux Basques has an insatiable appetite for books

The benefits of reading to young children are well known, and include enhancing comprehension and instilling a thirst for knowledge, to say nothing of the quality bonding time between a child and a parent or caregiver.

But even for an enthusiastic child, reading 884 books in just under three months is impressive. That’s how long it took four-year-old Emily Savory to complete her reading journal.

“She loves it,” says Emily’s mom, Ashley White, who usually reads to her daughter when they snuggle down at night before bed. “I have read up to 12 books. Then sometimes it’s even during the day.”

That bonding time is important to them both.

“It’s nice because it’s like my relaxing time with her and the only time I don’t pay any mind to housework or whatever else has got to be done,” she said.

Aunt Candace White also helps Emily with a lot of her reading, but it’s Emily’s enthusiasm which is the driving force behind completing the reading journal.

“She liked picking out books to bring home and read,” says Ashley, who admits that book shelf space is getting a bit tricky. So Emily’s books have now overflowed into younger sister Julia’s room. “Once Emily’s bookshelf got full we got one for Julia’s room.”

Seasonal books revolving around Christmas or Halloween are stored in containers and pulled out when the time comes. And now Emily is pursuing a few collections.

“We’ve got two shelves full but she’s trying to get some collections like Clifford, Disney, Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears and Scooby Doo, so we may have to work on another shelf,” laughs Ashley, who estimates her daughter now owns over 1,500 books.

As a parent, Ashley says she loves her daughter’s keen interest in books and that she’s even learned a thing or two about her child as a result.

“Valerie (Parsons) was telling me how kids who’ve been read to are a little more creative, catch on to reading faster and it helps them recognize words,” says Ashley, who has watched Emily already attempting to read to her baby sister. “She (Emily) told me one day about horses and different kids and what a baby horse was called. I didn’t even know she knew so much about horses.”

Emily is a registered book club member with Butterfly Book Boutique, an independently owned bookstore in Port aux Basques. The youth book club, which includes children up to Grade 6, currently boasts 86 members and Emily is the first to complete her reading journal.

Valerie Parsons, the owner of Butterfly Book Boutique, is also a teacher and developed the book club when she first opened her store.

When children join the book club they get 10 gently used books, a reading journal to record them in, and a bookmark for $1.15.

Once a child fills all 884 slots in their journal, Parsons awards them a prize from her store. So far only Emily has claimed it.

Meanwhile, as some of the original book club members are getting older, the bookstore owner is now toying with the idea of upping the age limit.

Aside from the obvious book sales, Parsons admits she gains a personal satisfaction from helping to instill the benefits of reading to youths.

“I love to read, and to get children to be read to or read themselves, makes me feel fantastic. I also use the reading journal in my classroom,” Parsons said. “When they reach 500 (books) I take them out for pizza. One of my students read 1,200+ books last year in Grade One.”

Parsons treats one of her students to pizza, a reward for being the first to reach the 500 book milestone this year. And once her entire class reaches that number they’ll all be treated to pizza as well.

Having a stream of enthusiastic children coming in and out of the shop to pick out their next book is a treat for Parsons.

“I love seeing their face when they see how many books are there for them to choose from,” she said.

As for Emily, she’s still undecided as to which of her vast collection is her favourite book.

“I love all of them!”

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