Chances are, most of the kids in the WaKeeney Grade School have grown up listening to stories read by Ashley Conness at the WaKeeney Public Library. She’s been at it for nine years, starting very soon after taking her job at K-State’s Golden Prairie Extension District. She’s also the 4H program manager for the after school program at the WaKeeney Grade School.
She graduated with a degree in Secondary Education from the Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas, following a family tradition that included two aunts who were teachers. Ashley loves her job at the K-State Extension office since it allows her to interact with kids and foster their education through the Library’s Story Hour Program. She works with mostly pre-schoolers in the spring and fall at the Library and then with older kids who are involved in the 4-H Program.
She has three boys of her own and is expecting a girl to arrive at the end of November, so she keeps busy inspiring them to be life-long learners, too. “I think it’s very important for parents to read to their children when they are young, to instill a love of reading in them before they start to learn to read on their own. We’ve seen a real benefit to our boys and their reading skills by sharing stories with them from infancy onward,” remarks Conness.
With each Story Hour, Ashley puts together a snack that is an arts-and-crafts project kids can assemble and enjoy before eating. She starts with the story theme based on a season, holiday, or special topic. Next she decides what type of snack food she’d like to use and then researches ideas on Google to for art projects using one or two of the food items she’s chosen. She shares that “Parents can do the same thing at home if they want.”
Inspiring kids with an attitude of fun when it comes to reading is primary with Ashley’s storytelling strategy, and she’s been doing it with flying colors for almost a decade.
Pre-school age children can join the Story Hour sessions with Ashley at the WaKeeney Public Library this fall every other Thursday: October 3, 17, 31 and November 14 at 10:00 AM to 10:45. For more information, call the Library at 785-743-2960