Shelia Huffman – Guest Contributor
Jul 24 2012
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BY Shelia Huffman and Ken Lampton with RE/MAX

If you are a Lakewood/M-Street resident, chances are the Lakewood Library is a significant part of your family’s recreation. Whether you go to hear a book review, view an art show, or knit with the knitting circle, the library offers much more than books to lend. The Children’s Library is no exception.

Ray Sablack, known to Lakewood and M-Street families as Mr. Ray, draws over 100 preschoolers to the library every Wednesday for story time. I visited the library last week to see and hear story time. Parents and children sit cross-legged on the floor of the auditorium to interact with musical medleys and hear Mr. Ray make characters from selected books come alive. One mom said, “He’s the best”.

Ray has been a professional librarian for the past 17 years. He has a master’s degree in Library and Informational Science from Texas Women’s University

Ray has always loved books. He remembers his third grade teacher assigning the class to write a letter to someone they admired. Ray chose Beverly Cleary, author of the Ramona Collection, a series of humorous children’s novels. She wrote him back, which strengthened his early love of books and reading. At the age of 16, Ray began volunteering at his local library, assisting in the children’s program. He soon knew this was his niche.

While some people bemoan the rise of e-books like the Kindle, Nook, and iPad, Ray feels these devices are simply a new way to facilitate reading and make it more convenient. He says, “The number of Kindles and iPads being purchased shows we are still a culture of readers.“ He believes teaching young children to read for pleasure is one of the most important things we can encourage them to do.

During Wednesday Story Time, Ray proudly announced that 1,100 young readers have signed up for the Summer Reader Program at the Lakewood Branch of the library. The enthusiasm of "Mr. Ray" is definitely a factor in this great success.