First Lady Cathy Justice celebrates Family Read Week with Raleigh County students

West Virginia First Lady Cathy Justice reads "When I was Young in the Mountains" by Cynthia Rylant to Gina Justice's second grade class at Daniels Elementary School in Daniels on Thursday. The first lady read to the second as well as a fifth grade class as part of 2019 West Virginia Family Read Week which runs from Nov. 17 until Nov. 23. (Chris Jackson/The Register-Herald)

First Lady Cathy Justice spent her Thursday afternoon reading to 2nd and 5th Grade students at Daniels Elementary School in Raleigh County in honor of West Virginia Family Read Week. 

West Virginia Family Read Week is taking place November 17 to November 23, and libraries throughout the state are encouraging parents and guardians to read with their children. According to the West Virginia Library Commission, reading aloud stimulates speech and language development for young children and also promotes family bonding — something Justice says she's very passionate about. 

To stick with West Virginia heritage, Justice read aloud West Virginia-based books written by authors from the state, including "When I was Young in the Mountains" by Cynthia Rylant, which tells the story of the memories of her childhood spent with her grandparents in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. 

Children sat in the floor on a multi-colored striped carpet, gazing up at Justice as she sat perched in a chair, glasses on her nose. They sat attentively, soaking in the lines of the story as they came out of her mouth. 

After finishing the book, Justice asked the students questions about the story, making sure they retained the information she just read aloud. She even asked them questions about what they knew of their West Virginia heritage.  

"Today was just about interacting with the students, and telling them how important is to read and keep reading," Justice said. "You can't start too young and you can't start too old. You need to always be reading throughout your lifetime. Even if for some reason they don't have access to books, they should read the back of cereal boxes or anything like that. Just keep reading." 

Justice said it's important for children to not only learn to read, but enjoy reading, because if they start the enjoyment early in life, they'll go far in their lifetime. 

"Reading can take you to other places, even if you don't go there physically, you could read a book and your mind takes a trip to Paris or wherever it is you want to go."  

— Email: jnelson@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @jnelsonRH

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