Scout sees bedtime stories as means to sweet dreams

Teen to host free family reading event on April 30


 Jenna Beth Wincek will host a family reading event at the Millstone Community Center on April 30 as part of earning the Girl Scout Silver Award. Jenna Beth Wincek will host a family reading event at the Millstone Community Center on April 30 as part of earning the Girl Scout Silver Award. MILLSTONE — Jenna Beth Wincek believes more children would smile as they drift off to slumberland and more would develop better potential for success if they read before bed.

She will host “Sweet Dreams and Bedtime Stories,” a reading event for children ages 3-10 at the Millstone Community Center on April 30. Parents and guardians are encouraged to bring their children anytime between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to participate in interactive literacy activities and learn about the importance of reading at home. While the event is free, donations of infant and children’s pajamas and children’s books will be collected for families in need.

“My goal is to make parents aware of how important reading is to their children,” Jenna said. “I want to encourage families to read bedtime stories together to improve children’s literacy.”

The 13-year-old planned the community event to earn the Girl Scout Silver Award, the highest achievement Girl Scouts ages 11-14 can attain. Currently a cadette in Troop 853 under the supervision of leaders Laura Dreifus, JoAnn Kaba and Lisa Diaz, Jenna has been a member of the Millstone Township Girl Scouts since the first grade. Prior to starting her Silver Award project, she had to complete a Girl Scout journey that helped her build skills and gain leadership experience. Her journey ended with a visit to the Vacation Bible School at St. Joseph’s Church in Millstone, where she talked with students about the environment and the benefits of planting trees.

A Silver Award project has to serve the community and must take 50 hours to plan and complete. Jenna had two things in mind when she started thinking about her project. She wanted to help children and have the opportunity to work one-on-one with them.

“I wanted to benefit children and work with them instead of doing something to benefit children and seeing pictures of them,” Jenna said.

Knowing that literacy is an underpinning of a successful life, she decided she would help teach young children the importance of reading for fun. Jenna asked her mother, Laurie, an elementary school teacher, if she could visit her first-grade classroom to collect ideas for organizing a community reading event.

When children attend the event, Jenna will welcome and direct them to various stations she set up with fun and educational reading and writing activities. She and some of her troop members, family and friends will assist parents and guardians in leading children through the activities and modifying them for different age groups.

Children will play games with letter cubes and rhyming cups to help them develop one of the basic building blocks of reading — reading sight words. They will laugh while learning a literacy lesson with the “old lady who swallowed a fly,” and get to demonstrate their creativity when making storybooks and bookmarks. Tots will also get a chance to cuddle up with their loved ones or relax on the red reading couch during story time. The event will also feature an alphabet beanbag scavenger hunt and other interactive phonics games. Jenna and her mother are baking chocolate chip cookies for kids to snack on, and volunteers will offer face painting to add to the overall fun.

“I hope that after the event, children will want to read more at home,” Jenna said. “I also hope parents will see how much their children like to read and to be read to.”

Jenna also devised her project to provide these lessons to less fortunate families living in the area. Believing in the generosity of the Millstone community, she set a goal to collect 300 pairs of new pajamas and 500 new or slightly used books to donate to the Samaritan Center in Manalapan. She placed collection boxes at the three schools, Vesuvio Pizza and Blue Waters Boutique in Millstone and will have one at the upcoming reading event. She also created an informational pamphlet about reading for fun at home that the Samaritan Center will distribute with the pajamas and books.

For more information about the reading event or to make a donation, contact Jenna Beth Wincek at millstonereadingevent