'Readmobile Guy' reads aloud to every child in Hamilton County (with video)

'Readmobile Guy' reads aloud to every child in Hamilton County (with video)

August 3rd, 2014 by Tim Omarzu in Local Regional News

Read 20's Favorite Read-aloud Books

"Alice The Fairy," by David Shannon

"The Bake Shop Ghost," by Jacqueline K. Ogburn

"Big Al," by Andrew Clements

"Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type," by Doreen Cronin

"David Goes to School," by David Shannon

"Duck On a Bike," by David Shannon

"Falling for Rapunzel," by Leah Wilcox

"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore," by William Joyce

"The Goat Lady," by Jane Bregoli

"The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum," by Kate Bernheimer & Nicoletta Ceccoli

"Hooway for Wodney Wat," by Helen Lester

"How I Became a Pirate," by Melinda Long & David Shannon

"I Ain't Gonna Paint No More," by Karen Beaumont

"The Incredible Book Eating Boy," by Oliver Jeffers

"Julius, the Baby of the World," by Kevin Henkes

"Library Lion," by Michelle Knudsen

"Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse," by Kevin Henkes

"Little Britches," by Eric Kimmel

"Love and Roast Chicken," by Barbara Knutson

"My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother," by Patricia Polacco

"The Old Woman that Named Everything," by Cynthia Rylant

"Pete and Pickles," by Berkeley Breathed

"Piggie Pie!" by Margie Palatini

"Pirates Don't Change Diapers," by Melinda Long & David Shannon

"The Princess and the White Bear King," by Miranda Richardson

"Six-Dinner Sid," by Inga Moore

"Skippyjon Jones (Series)," by Judy Schachner

"Sylvester and the Magic Pebble," by William Steig

"The Tear Thief," by Carol Ann Duffy & Nicoletta Ceccoli

"Wolf!" by Becky Bloom

Book the Readmobile

It delivers read-alouds and new books for infants through fifth-graders in classrooms, educational programs and child care centers free of charge Monday through Friday from about 8 a.m. to about 5 p.m. Email Stewart Payne at stewartp@hamilton.gov or call him at 423-443-2527 for more information.

Practice makes perfect. And Stewart Payne has lots of practice reading to kids.

Since 2008, Payne has been "the Readmobile Guy" for Read 20, a Hamilton County program that gives away children's books and encourages parents to spend at least 20 minutes a day reading to their kids.

Payne reads at elementary schools and other places where infants through fifth-graders congregate, including day cares, community centers, summer camps, parks, recreation centers and Head Start programs.

"I try to reach every kid in Hamilton County in a year -- twice," Payne said. "Sometimes, I'll go and I'll read to every single kid in a school in a day."

Through all his experience, which includes reading to his two sons, he's gained tips to help parents get their kids to fall in love with reading.

Enthusiasm is key, Payne said.

"Keep it fun," he said. "If the kids are having fun, it all just works like a charm.

"There's an art and a flow; there's a tempo," added Payne, a longtime musician who intersperses his readings with songs such as "Bingo Was His Name-O."

Good material helps, too.

"Two-, 3- and 4-year-olds can be the toughest audience on the planet," Payne said. "If I don't have great storybooks with captivating pictures, then my job would be 10 times as hard."

You can't read Shakespeare to a 2-year-old, he said -- but you can use simpler materials to illustrate big ideas.

"What better way to show a 12-year-old what a tragedy is than Humpty Dumpty?" Payne asked.

Research shows that the more time you spend reading to kids, the better they'll do in life, he said.

"Make it part of your nightly routine," said Payne. "That's one of the best things."

Beth and Adam Reed brought their 5-year-old son Joshua, 3-year-old daughter Izzy and a 10-month-old female cousin to hear Payne read this past week at John H. Allen Elementary School in Soddy-Daisy.

The school's library, which is open Tuesdays during the summer, had about 40 kids sitting on the carpeting while Payne read. He set out piles of free books on the library's tables for kids to keep after the read-aloud was over.

"He's phenomenal," Beth Reed said. "Any time that you can take a story and bring it to life -- which is what he does -- that makes reading that much more fun."

Shula Yelliott, program manager for Read 20, said kids love to see Payne come and shake things up at their school with an enthusiastic read-aloud.

"Especially coming from a big, old guy like Stewart. You don't see men losing their mind over a children's book," Yelliott said.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com, twitter.com/TimOmarzu or 423-757-6651.

Stewart Payne reads to children at Allen Elementary School in Soddy-Daisy.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.