An internationally-known children's book author is giving KELOLAND teachers a rare opportunity to learn from her.
Jill Eggleton has written more than 700 books in her career, and has studied the secrets to making kids better readers and lifelong learners.
Eggleton is finishing up four days of teacher training at the University of Sioux Falls. The New Zealand author has dedicated her life to literacy; how to teach it, but also how children learn it.
"It has to go back to the parents, reading, talking, putting language in front of children almost right from the moment they're born,” she said.
Teachers came from not just South Dakota, but also surrounding states and even Canada. Shelly Wiemann is a reading specialist for the Brookings School District, and says Eggleton's message is just what educators need.
"Kind of rejuvenates us, refreshes us, and renews us so we can go back in as passionate teachers," Wiemann said.
The training days have been a lot like school days, beginning at 8:30 a.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m. Aside from that, teachers go back and write reflections on what they've learned for the day.
They're picking up some surprising information.
"In fact, there's research that shows a child needs to hear 1,000 stories read to them aloud before they'll become readers themselves,” Eggleton said. “And if a child knows eight rhymes by heart by the time they're four, they'll be among the best readers by the time they're eight."
Eggleton says there's no doubt literacy begins at home, but it's a lifelong pursuit, and something educators can't afford to ignore.
Around 140 teachers came to the four-day training session, and earned two graduate credits.