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Doctor Brings Joy Of Reading to Durkin Park

Students at Durkin Park Elementary gathered in the cafeteria on April 11 to welcome neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson, from Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, and celebrate the opening of the Dr. Ben Carson reading room.

Both parties have combined efforts to bring such opportunities provided by reading rooms to schools throughout Chicago, encouraging young students to take a genuine interest in reading for leisure. {{more}}

Durkin Park Elementary School, 8445 S. Kolin Ave., is the second school in the Chicago area to receive this gift.

Students and faculty convened to prepare for Carson’s arrival. Teachers handed out iPads to a handful of students and told them to stand at their assigned post to record the event. And they did, it seemed. They accepted the iPads eagerly as they picked out their own special angles to film.

Reading rooms are, no doubt, a wonderful addition to the schools. But how much will they be used by the children in the age of the Internet? Particularly when the opening of the reading room was welcomed by iPads, wielded by the very children that the reading room is dedicated.

ÒThe person who has the most to do with your life, is you,” Carson explained as he addressed the issues of poverty and children growing up without a chance to read for leisure in school.

He revealed to the students his frustrations growing up, noting he Òdidn’t like being poor until he started reading books.”

It was then that he fell in love with imagining different worlds while reading, and realized the more he read the more he opened himself up to opportunities.

This is what Carson aims to do with the reading room that is named in his honor.

ÒCourageous people who still don’t necessarily follow all the rules but it leads to a better way of life” are the types of people Carson liked to read about while growing up in Detroit.

Durkin Park Elementary staff and students thanked Carson and Advocate Christ Medical Center for the reading room with performances by the younger and older students.

Some read, as a group, inspirational poems, while others sang a thank you song to the tune of Billy Joel’s ÒThe Longest Time.”

Students and faculty were offered a first glance of the Dr. Ben Carson reading room during the ribbon cutting ceremony, alongside Carson, Advocate Christ Medical Center, and Durkin Park Elementary’s Principal Daniel Redmond.

The room filled quickly with students and parents gazing at inspirational words, like ÒThink Big” written across the wall, as well as one wall of bookshelves filled to the brim.

There is plenty of room for the students to lounge on the bean bags and couches. Dr. Seuss books were propped up, perhaps to remind the students of the world of possibility that reading creates.

Redmond watched as the students crowded around Carson to wait for their turn to get their books signed.

He seemed relieved when he explained, ÒThe kids do get library, but they only get it once a week. The hope now is that they’ll be able to use it during their free time or recess.

ÒThey all don’t want to play basketball or softball; a lot of them want to read.”

When asked how the reading room competes with computers and the Internet, Redmond focused on the importance of books.

ÒI’m an educator and I just believe that reading is the training for the mind.”

With the Internet and computers taking up so much of children’s attention, reading rooms are that much more important, Carson said.

ÒSo many children today in our country come from homes with no books,” explained Carson. ÒThey go to a school with no library.

ÒThose are the ones who end up dropping out. We all need to do everything we can to make sure we have a literate society.”

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