By Stephanie Giunta

Author Claire N. Rubman, PhD

March is designated as National Reading Month, in honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday. It’s a month where Americans of all ages are encouraged to read every day and recognize the enjoyment and fun derived from one of life’s greatest pastimes. Most importantly, it’s a great time to reinforce the beauty and adventure associated with reading to young children. And that’s exactly what Claire N. Rubman is conveying to parents in her new book, This May Be Difficult to Read: But You Really Should (For Your Child’s Sake). 

Rubman, a cognitive developmental psychologist, teacher, and Three Village resident for 30+ years, has seen the first-hand struggle of chronic reading problems that impact children and can follow into young adulthood. Credentials aside, as a mother of three children, she truly believes that the key to eliciting meaning behind reading and creating a comprehensive relationship with text can be achieved by taking a rather simplistic approach: make reading fun — for both parents and children.

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, especially in the post-pandemic world that we live in, reading has become less of a priority. Most families live in dual-income homes, race the clock to complete work, start the nighttime routine, and relax. But Rubman notes that reading should be integrated into the daily structure of the home, so that it is as relaxed as a dinner table conversation.

When reading is so closely-intertwined into everyday life and isn’t viewed as a structured event, the mysteries and adventures through print and text become constant fixtures in the family setting, promoting stimulation and critical thinking in children’s minds. Rubman suggests replacing decoding with imagination; letting children explore pictures and words, bringing character development to life. And you, as the parent, are there to cheer them on through the process — regardless of their literary independence.

To create the need to read, we need to better understand how children process information. “Children are not little adults.  They process information much differently than we do. They are taught how to spell, what words are, but not to put the entire process together,” says Rubman. This level of research is what prompted the creation of her book — to demystify the differences between reading and reading comprehension in young children.  Children need the proper background information and context to truly understand what they are reading. They have phenomenal memories and rote repetition can yield positive levels of reading comprehension, but to Rubman’s point, that doesn’t mean they understand or appreciate the context. 

So, this is where parents have to step in.

Reading is the linchpin of all future learning, and though it is taught in the classroom, it needs to be celebrated within the home. Dedicating 1:1 interaction with children from a young age can show how beautiful reading is: a much more stimulating activity than passively watching TV as a family. To do this, we need to engage in a ‘reading renaissance’ and move our relationship with it into the 21st century. 

Moreover, Rubman notes that we need to slow down and enjoy the journey as parents, which ties directly into a healthy relationship with reading. Parents must focus on the big picture — the adventure and enjoyment associated with reading — as opposed to the narrow, nitty gritty of cognitive development. All children learn at different paces and will achieve educational milestones at different times. That being said, parents need to take a breath and appreciate parent/child bonding for what it is, and how reading can further enhance that bond. 

This May Be Difficult to Read is aimed to be a hopeful catalyst for parents to make positive changes at home; to meet their children at their level and learn how reading can be made enjoyable again; to create a child-centered family, embrace mistakes and celebrate differences in trajectory. Parents should learn to think as their children think, and process as they process. They should let their children lead, and learn to follow them throughout every step on their journey. 

The greatest drop in reading has occurred in the last 50 years, and Rubman is trying to turn it around by reinstating emotional value as a key ingredient in the educational recipe; by rewarding the effort and not the outcome; by helping parents help themselves; by making a trip to the library just as fun and important as going to get ice cream or a new toy. 

In our interview, Rubman left me with an insightful nugget: “Play soccer because it’s fun to play soccer — not to get on the travel team, not for college.” Parents need to set the bar to make reading into the recreational activity that it is — not a chore or step towards a greater goal. It’s an adventure, an escape from reality … a chance to learn something new … because childhood hobbies typically turn into adulthood passions; and the love of reading is a true, generational gift that we need to keep giving.


This May Be Difficult to Read: But You Really Should (For Your Child’s Sake) is the recipient of a Kirkus star, a 2023 National Parenting Product Award, Mom’s Choice Gold Award, earned “Recommended” status from U.S. Review of Books, and a received a 2023 Independent Press Award as “Distinguished Favorite” in Education. The book is available at and

Top row, from left to right: Coach Venus Chavez, Nate Hart, Connor Blistany, Sophia Villagracia, Anna Polyansky, Teen Mentor Kai Kubik, Teen Mentor Jacob Huwer. Bottom row: Gideon Cesare, Brian Hyrycz, Scott Disbrow, Coach Khan DeRenzo and Teen Mentor Yushan Pan. Not pictured due to illness: Kenan Caliskan. Photo courtesy Sal Filosa

The Port Jefferson Library’s Lego Robotics team advanced to the Long Island Championship round of the SBPLI FIRST Robotics League, which will take place on Sunday, March 5, at Hicksville High School. 

The team came in fifth place and won an award for their robot design at the qualifiers held at Huntington High School on Saturday, Feb. 4.

Librarians Khan DeRenzo and Venus Chavez have coached the team with help from teen mentors Jacob Huwer, Kai Kubik and Yushan Pan.

The Long Island Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association will be holding an in-person event called “10 Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s” at the Middle Country Public Library, 101 Eastwood Blvd., Centereach on Thursday, Mar. 9 from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m.

This will be an overview of how to recognize the common signs of Alzheimer’s disease; how to approach someone about memory concerns; the importance of early detection and benefits of a diagnosis; possible tests and assessments for the diagnostic process, and Alzheimer’s Association resources

“It is important to recognize the warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia,” said Taryn Kutujian, LMSW, Senior Community Education Manager for the Alzheimer’s Association Long Island Chapter. “We are here to provide the Long Island community the resources that you need to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia.”

To register for the event, click here

To learn more about the Long Island Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, visit its website here or call the 24/7 Helpline at 800.272.3900


Alzheimer’s Association®

The Alzheimer’s Association is a worldwide voluntary health organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to lead the way to end Alzheimer’s and all other dementia — by accelerating global research, driving risk reduction and early detection, and maximizing quality care and support. Their vision is a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia®.

The Hallock family played with the “Rigamajig” building toys in the “Engineering at Work” Museum Corner exhibit at Middle Country Public Library in Centereach. Photo courtesy MCPL

The Museum Corner at Middle Country Public Library in Centereach has a new exhibit, “Engineering at Work.” 

Visitors can come in during regular library hours to enjoy fun and engaging hands-on learning activities that will generate interest in and knowledge of different types of engineering.

The exhibit, geared toward children five- to 11-years-old, includes several activity stations providing role-play, experimentation and problem-solving opportunities in addition to displays featuring real-life engineers. 

These are just some of the exciting elements to be found in the exhibit, presented with support from the Middle Country Library Foundation.

Kate, on right, is the winner of Emma Clark Library's Super Bowl 'Saturday' raffle. Photo from Emma Clark Library


Congratulations to Kate (pictured on right with her sister) who was the raffle prize winner at Emma Clark Library’s Super Bowl “Saturday” event on Feb. 11! She won a 3D football night light and an inflatable football target. Over 90 people (elementary-aged kids and their families) participated in the annual event and enjoyed football-themed games and festivities including cornhole, “Pin-the-Football in the End Zone,” a “Touchdown Toss” beanbag game, and a “Plinko” disc drop. Of course, there were plenty of books about football and an afternoon spent at the library is always a touchdown!

Photo courtesy of Emma Clark Library

Stock photo

Save the date! Sachem Public Library, 150 Holbrook Road, Holbrook hosts a Job Fair sponsored by the Suffolk County One-Stop Employment Center on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 10 a.m. to noon. Representatives from Amazon, American Regent, Biocogent, LLC, NYS Solar, East/West Industries, Well Life Network, New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, Winters Bros Waste Systems and more will be on hand to discuss job opportunities. Bring your resume and dress for success. Call 631-585-5844 for more information.

Graphic from MCPL

Do you have a legal question? The Community Legal Help Project is at the Middle Country Public library in Centereach on the first, second and third Thursday of each month from 3-6 p.m. 

Volunteer attorneys provide free legal advice to Suffolk County residents on legal matters related to a variety of topics, including bankruptcy, criminal, divorce, family (child support, custody, orders of protection, visitation), landlord/tenant, and mortgage/foreclosure. 

They will meet with senior citizens (over 60 years old) to discuss issues related to housing and utilities, income nutrition/benefits, health/long term care, advanced care directives, and consumer related issues. 

Walk-ins are welcome but appointments are preferred. Please call 631-322-8272 to reserve your spot.

Izzy G. was the raffle winner of a previous event. Photo from Emma Clark Library

Emma Clark Library, 120 Main St. Setauket will be hosting “Super Bowl Saturday” to add to the excitement before the big football game!

Elementary-aged kids and their families are welcome to stop by Emma Clark anytime between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 11 to enjoy football-themed festivities. Games will include cornhole, “Pin-the-Football in the End Zone”, “Touchdown Toss” beanbag game, and a “Plinko” disc drop. There will be a raffle to win a special prize. And of course, the Library has plenty of books about football! Participants are encouraged to wear their favorite team’s jersey or football-themed attire. Have a ball at the Library…an afternoon spent there is always a touchdown!

There is no registration for this event, and it is geared towards children in kindergarten through 6th grade.  Open to all. Anyone with questions should call 631-941-4080 or email [email protected]

The Middle Country Public Library recently held a ribbon cutting ceremony celebrating the grand opening of the Centereach Reading Room. 

The newly renovated 7,500 square foot area includes an innovation maker space and podcast recording studio that will allow the community to explore new technologies. 

Patrons will have the opportunity to participate in the creative process and collaborate with one another in a quiet study room and two small group study rooms along with a redesigned public computer area. 

The functional and transformational design was created in collaboration with architectural firm Bermello Ajamil and Partners and includes the information desk and a glass curtain wall leading to the Reading Garden, and a café that is scheduled to open in the early part of 2023. 

The library thanks the community for their support throughout this project and the many distinguished guests who attended the ceremony, including Suffolk County Legislator Nick Caracappa (C-Selden) and Town of Brookhaven Councilman Kevin LaValle (R-Selden).

'The Last Thing He Told Me' by Laura Dave was the most requested audiobook among Suffolk County library patrons in 2022.

The Public Libraries of Suffolk County recently announced that it reached a record-breaking three million digital book checkouts on in 2022. This milestone illustrates the continued growth and importance of library lending of e-books, audiobooks and other digital media as well as the library’s success in serving all members of the community. 

Livebrary, consisting of 56 libraries in Suffolk County, is #13 of all public library consortia, one of 129 public library systems worldwide and third in New York that surpassed one million checkouts last calendar year.

The Public Libraries of Suffolk County have been providing readers 24/7 access to e-books and audiobooks for several years through the award-winning Libby app, the library reading app created by OverDrive. The large collection serves readers of all ages and interests, and usage has grown every year.

“The Public Libraries of Suffolk County continue to provide access to a diverse collection of e-books and audiobooks giving readers the opportunity to connect with a wealth of information and entertainment from wherever they may be,” said Kevin Verbesey, Director of the Suffolk Cooperative Library System.

The highest-circulating title Livebrary readers borrowed in 2022 was The Last Thing He Told Me by internationally bestselling author Laura Dave. The instant #1 New York Times bestselling mystery and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick is about a woman searching for the truth about her husband’s disappearance…at any cost. The top-circulating genre, romance, represents the most popular in a vast catalog that also includes mystery, fantasy, children/young adult and more.

The top five e-book titles borrowed through Livebrary’s digital collection in 2022 were:

1. Verity by Colleen Hoover

2. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

3. Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

4. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

5. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

The top five audiobook titles borrowed through Livebrary’s digital collection in 2022 were:

1. The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

3. The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

4. The Maid by Nita Prose

5. Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty

Suffolk County residents just need a valid library card from a member library to access digital books from Livebrary’s OverDrive-powered digital collection. 

Readers can use any major device, including Apple®, Android™, Chromebook™ and Kindle® (U.S. only). 

Download the Libby app or visit to get started borrowing e-books, audiobooks and more anytime, anywhere.

This article originally appeared in TBR News Media’s Prime Times supplement on Jan. 26.