NewsPinellas County


Palm Harbor firefighters read to kids to highlight importance of early literacy

Posted at 4:09 PM, Jan 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-31 17:27:32-05

PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Palm Harbor Fire Rescue is teaching kids how to read at an early age as they highlight the importance of early literacy.

“You’ve got to wash the fire trucks first thing in the morning keep them clean,” said Palm Harbor Fire Chief Scott Sanford, while reading a children’s book out loud. “Romeo and Juliet are in the window and he’s going to save them.”

PINELLAS NEWS | The latest headlines from Pinellas County

Chief Sanford has been showing off his reading skills all week for kids at local schools.

“The kids go crazy, they love it,” he said.

The entire fire rescue team is in on it too.

“Jarod was a tall giraffe who’s neck was long and slim, but his knees were awfully crooked and his legs were rather thin,” said Lt. Arntz, as he reads “Giraffes Can’t Dance” to his young girls.

Chris Eisenhardt took it a step further as he cozied up under a blanket and let his daughter read him a bedtime story.

“It was very comfy, that bean bag sucks you in,” Eisenhardt said laughing.

After receiving a handful of firefighter related children’s books from the Pinellas County Early Learning Coalition, Palm Harbor Fire Rescue got to work to share the importance of early literacy.

They say that if a child reads 20 minutes a day by the time they’re in sixth grade they’ve read almost 2,000,000 words,” said Chief Sanford.

They will have read for 851 hours by sixth grade and in standardized tests, they will likely score better than 90% of their peers.

Eisenhardt says he reads with his daughter Emily at least two to three times a day.

“At first we would start off [and] I would read a sentence, and she would read a sentence. Then I would read a sentence, and she would read two sentences, and now she’s reading me whole books,” he said.

Eisenhardt says the true key to success is to let your child pick out a book that really interests them, so they want to read. He says Emily is into "Star Wars" and has grown so much in just a few months.

”Putting the words together, understanding the sentences, using the excitement and the sadness and the punctuation now, so she’s actually telling the story instead of just reading the lines,” he said.

Even Ruby the fire dog loves a good book, which proves anyone can read if they try and get the help they need from others.