VENICE KAYLA Delica, 8, wishes other children, but most especially her older brother, would share her passion for reading.
?He is not fond of books. That?s why I want to encourage him to read,? the shy third grader from Oriental Mindoro said of her 10-year-old sibling.
On the other hand, Shaina Marie Villareal, 9, believes reading will bring her more than just joy. Her love of books, she thinks, will help her achieve her goals in life.
Villareal, who says each story has a moral lesson, adds, ?Every kid should learn to love and read books? if they want a promising future.
For the two young girls, reading has already paid off. They are among the winners in the Department of Education?s 2009 National Read-a-thon contest.
Villareal and Delica, national champions in oral reading interpretation and story retelling (contestants retold in their own words stories they read), respectively, each received P25, 000 and a medal.
The Read-a-thon competition, part of DepEd?s program to improve reading comprehension, selected the best individual and team readers among public elementary school pupils.
The winners said they wanted to save their cash prizes, but hoped to use some of the money to buy more books.
The girls gave credit to their respective teachers who coached them.
Practice is key
Ruby Hernandez, Villareal?s coach and a teacher at the Bulan North Central School in
Sorsogon, said everyday reading practice is the key to winning.
?We didn?t stop practicing until she (Villareal) was able to deliver the proper emotions in every story she read to her audience,? Hernandez said. ?I also exposed her to different kinds of people so she could gain more confidence. I took her not just to different classrooms but also to parks where she read stories to neighborhood and street children.?
The DepEd also honored this year?s Outstanding Reading Teachers for their important contribution in the field of literacy: Grace Rabela of Nabua Central Pilot School, Camarines Sur, national champion; Amcy Esteban of Legarda Elementary School, Manila, first runner-up; and Eva Imingan of Nellie Brown Elementary School, Olongapo City, second runner-up.
They received cash prizes of P75, 000, P50,000 and P30,000, respectively, as well as trophies and books for their schools that also received plaques. The winning teachers? divisions and regions also received plaques.
Education Secretary Jesli Lapus said the recognition aimed to motivate the teachers to excel in their field and encourage them to share best practices in teaching reading.
?When children can read and comprehend what they are reading, it is easier for them to understand other lessons in school. Learning really needs a solid foundation in reading,? he said.
Other initiatives to improve reading comprehension include the establishment of library hubs and book donations by the private sector and local governments.
Lapus said he had directed schools to beef up their libraries and implement various reading strategies to develop a love for reading at an early age.