‘Great Stories’ have happy ending

Kenai librarian wins award for work with high-schoolers, younger children

Posted: Sunday, October 08, 2006


  Corey Hall has been recognized for her efforts to improve literacy on the central peninsula. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Corey Hall has been recognized for her efforts to improve literacy on the central peninsula.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

Amazed that her husband nominated her for a 2006 Contributions to Literacy in Alaska Award, the Kenai recipient is more eager to talk about the literacy programs she coordinates than the award itself.

“I felt it was recognition of the passion I’ve had and the work I’ve done for a long time,” said Corey Hall, youth services librarian for the Kenai Community Library.

Hall was honored for her work with youth ranging from toddler to high school age.

Currently the Kenai mother of two is working with students at Kenai Alternative High School, where the “Great Stories Club” has been organized thanks in part to an American Library Association grant Hall pursued and received for the book club for teens at risk.

“The grant gave me 10 copies each of three young-adult books: “Born Blue,” by Han Nolan; “First Part Last,” by Angela Johnson; and “Stuck in Neutral,” by Terry Trueman,” Hall said.

Then, during the past summer, the association contacted Hall again, saying extra copies of the books were available. Hall received 10 more copies of each for use in the Kenai Alternative program.

The program puts Hall in the high school once each week, speaking to students in Thomas “Tad” DeGray’s language arts class about such things as obtaining a library card, finding other books written by a favorite author or finding books of a similar style. This year, the students also received a guided tour of the Kenai library.

Early last spring when Hall received the grant, she went to the school and found a number of the students had babies.

As a result of her visit, she will be starting a “Baby Story Time” program there later this month.

“I will go once a month and model how to hold a baby while reading to them and tell them why it’s important to read to babies,” Hall said. “The students will each get a board book for their babies,” she said, describing the hard-cover books, which are designed for toddlers and are relatively resistant to their explorative little hands and mouths.

The board books are being paid for by KAKM public television in Anchorage, which has partnered with Hall on the toddler program.

When she’s not at the high school, Hall is at the library conducting story time sessions for toddlers, preschoolers and older children after school.

“Toddlers is one of the most successful,” said Hall. The preschool program draws about 15 children and after school, which is brand new, averages 12 students ages 5 years and older.

The after-school program is based on “Postcards from Buster,” a PBS TV show centered on different cities.

“The kids watch the show, then read books about that particular city, and we usually do a crafts project along with that theme,” she said.

This session, the participants each will receive a free “Postcards from Buster” book.

Hall and her husband, Bruce, live in Kenai with their son, John, 21, and daughter, Ammi, 19.

When asked if her family shares her enthusiasm for reading, Hall said, “They’re not as active readers as I am.”

In addition to developing the Baby Story Time program at Kenai Alternative, Hall said she is looking for more grants to expand the Great Stories Club program so it can continue throughout the school year.

In being named to receive the Alaska literacy award, Hall was cited for starting a family book discussion group funded through the National Endowment for the Humanities in 2000 as well as for her current ventures at the high school.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.

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