McLit has promoted literacy across Marathon County for more than 20 years. When COVID-19 hit in early 2020, McLit was unable to operate and provide in-person services to the community due to the closure of the Marathon County Public Library and the Salvation Army in Wausau, where McLit had offices.
McLit’s executive director, Connie Heidemann, decided that it was time for McLit to have its very own place. A location was needed which would allow the community to receive help during the pandemic. In the summer of 2020, Heidemann found a place in the heart of downtown Wausau, and the move began.
“We were able to expand the size and capabilities of our computer lab, condense our supplies from all of our satellite offices into one space and set our own hours,” said Heidemann. “This move and new space has helped us expand and reach out to many more students.”
McLit’s new location also offers a new children’s room and accompanying program, ‘Share a Story: Plant a Seed to Read.’ This program will help parents and caregivers share stories and engage in literacy-building activities with young children through dialogic reading techniques. Trained early literacy tutors will work with parents of all literacy levels to pair their children with developmentally appropriate books, resources, and activities.
The Share-a-Story program uses the dialogic reading model, a reading style in which the adult uses conversational techniques including repetition, open-ended questions, prompts and praise to actively engage the child in telling the story depicted in children’s picture books.
“This program gives us a full spectrum of activities to meet the needs of younger and older ‘pre-readers,’ and plenty of reasons for parents and children to return to the Center again and again to build a habit of reading.” said Heidemann.