100 Years Ago: 1924

Livermore Grange was especially fortunate in securing helpful speakers for its meeting of Feb. 2nd. In the morning A.W. White of Augusta gave a stereoptican lecture illustrating his work in the interests of the Farmers Union and Co-operative Marketing. This lecture was of great interest to the fruit growers and shippers. Directly following the dinner hour, F.C. Sturtevant gave a talk on the great advantages coming to the fruit growers by a strict following of the present packing laws and also by careful attention to common sense methods in handling and shipping apples.

50 Years Ago: 1974

A photographic show from an unusual source opened this week at the Anderson Learning Center at Nasson College in Springvale. It will continue through March 31st.

Entitled “408 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn,” the photographs shown are culled from the photography program at the Brooklyn Heights Youth Center.

On Monday evening photographers whose work is included were honor guests at a reception at the Center.

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25 Years Ago: 1999

As a storyteller Pam Beliveau entertained a gaggle of 4- and 5-year-olds Thursday afternoon at Lewiston Public Library. Eight adults watched from the back of the room, equally enthralled by her performance.

Though they clearly enjoyed the stories and songs, their attention was focused more on how Beliveau worked the crowd and kept the interest of the potentially unruly mob. These adults soon will be in Beliveau’s place as volunteer readers in the BookReach program, visiting family day cares each week with a fresh bag of books, so they were learning the little tricks that make her successful.

“You’ve got to forget there are any adults here and get down on the kid’s level, ” she told the group after the reading program ended. “You’ve got to enjoy the books and the time together as much as the kids do.”

Beliveau sure does. She’s animated throughout the hour, starting out with a group song that ends with the children seated in front of her, then moving breezily through three illustrated children’s classics that some in the audience already know. Between each book is another group song that gets the kids up on their feet, bleeding off a little pent-up kid ‘s power that might otherwise disturb the next book.

It’s great fun for Beliveau and the kids, but it has a much more serious intent, said L.J. “Mac” McPeake, a member of the Lewiston Aspirations Partnership who helped start the program. The partnership was “casting about for a mission when one member’s idea clicked,” he said.

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“Peter Geiger said he’d learned that if a child can read by the time he gets to first grade, he can avoid a lot of problems in his education,” McPeake said. “That became the thrust of the reading program we started.”

The partnership coordinated with the Lewiston and Auburn libraries and Androscoggin Headstart to go where the kids are, and with preschoolers, that means daycares.

“We decided to start with family daycares because the larger, institutional ones usually have their own books and story times,” said Debbie Daggett, BookReach coordinator. “The smaller ones usually don’t have enough staff members able to bring the kids to the library, so we thought we’d bring the library to them.”

There are about 110 licensed daycares in Lewiston-Auburn, Daggett estimates, “and our goal is to have all of them signed up with us within two years.”

BookReach got a financial boost with a $28,780 grant from L.L. Bean. The money was used to buy and imprint canvas book bags and 310 children’s books. Each week the readers will take a bag and 10 books to their appointed round, spend an hour or so with the children and then leave the bag there until they return the next week.

“That’s the neat part of the program, that we leave the books at the child care so the children can look at them all over for a week. We know they can’t possibly go through all the books in just an hour, so giving them a week to do that will expose them to more.”

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Daggett knows little hands can sometimes damage books, so she’s ready to make repairs when needed. And daycare operators don’t need to worry about having to pay for missing or torn books. she said; that’s all figured in the cost of running the program.

McPeake, who’s also the president of the Lewiston-Auburn Rotary Club, has been pushing the project inside the club, six Rotarians were among the first class of readers to be trained on Thursday, including McPeake who said he is looking forward to his first day on the job.

Mc Peake recently visited a daycare with reader Perry Munroe, and what he saw convinced him he had backed the right cause.

“I watched one kid learn to count as Perry went through a fireflies book,” he said. “He couldn’t count when he started, but by the end of the book he was counting right along with the others. That was really great to see.”

The material used in Looking Back is produced exactly as it originally appeared although misspellings and errors may be corrected.


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