Reading problems, juvenile crime linked

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – One retired Mississippi educator saw the need for early childhood education during her career and is using her retirement to write children’s books.
Diane Page was the educational coordinator over the Lee County Juvenile Detention Center for nine years before she retired in 2010 and worked in other aspects of education for 21 years before that.
“I think it’s so true and so sad that if a child can’t read by the third-grade year, there are going to be problems,” she said. “The earlier we start the better. Some people laugh when I say it but I think you should read to a child even in utero. Literacy breeds literacy and illiteracy breeds illiteracy.”
Page said literacy is the most important part of education she saw in every level of education she was involved in.
“I’ve been a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal, I taught for two years at Ole Miss and my last nine as the education coordinator over here at the juvenile center,” Page said. “I have taught pre-kindergarten through seniors at Ole Miss and reading is so very, very important.”
Page said there was a heavy emphasis on education when she worked with the Lee County Sheriff’s Office because they could see the lack of educational opportunities the inmates had.
“If the guys in prison had better educational opportunities, they would have had more and better choices,” she said.
Tuesday, Page presented her book, “Bobbs and the Little Boy,” to Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson’s son, Jimmie Johnson Jr.
“I’m also leaving some extra books for Donna Franks because ‘Bobbs and the Little Boy’ have been used in therapy with little children,” Page said. The book addresses the fears children have, like thunderstorms and monsters under their bed.
jb.clark@journalinc.com