Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles asking people in the community "What are you reading?" The series is meant to encourage a love of reading by people of all ages.
ELKINS - Elkins Mayor Van Broughton describes the book he is currently reading as his "user manual" - his 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week guide. Broughton is reading The Bible, a book he said gives him the answers he seeks.
"I was lucky when I was growing up," Broughton said. "My mother and grandmother both read to me, and lots of kids don't have that advantage today."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Elkins Mayor Van Broughton reads from his favorite book, The Bible. Broughton said his mother and grandmother read to him growing up, and feels he would not be where he is today if not for The Bible.
Broughton said when he was growing up, he liked to read as well - mostly sports publications like Sports Illustrated or Sports Monthly magazines. Today, he said he enjoys sitting down with a good book. Broughton said he tries to read from his Bible a bit each day.
"My goal is to read two chapters - to re-read the last chapter I read the day before and read a new one," he said. "The next day, I repeat from yesterday's readings. It helps me better absorb what I read and rereading the chapter allows everything to sink in."
Broughton said sometimes he will go back and reread chapters he read months before.
"This gives me even more insight into the messages," Broughton said. "I get even more the third time I read it."
Broughton said when he reads, he keeps a dictionary close by in case he needs to look up the meaning of a word.
"I don't see the point of reading and really not understanding what is written," Broughton said. "The Bible is such a great book - mine is a study Bible - it contains so much. It is a history book and I learn about geography, seas, oceans and other countries. No matter how many times you read it, you can always learn new things each time you read."
Broughton said his Bible was a gift from many years ago.
"I also have my Bible on my cell phone and iPad," Broughton said. "Of all the books I have read, it is my favorite. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time."
When he sits down to read, Broughton said he devotes his entire attention. He turns off the television and his cell phone, and removes his watch.
"I don't want any distractions when I am reading," Broughton said. "The Bible is a non-fiction book, and is not a fairy tale. It is a book for all seasons and can be read when you are alone or with a group."
Broughton said The Bible gives him comfort, peace and love.
"The Bible is my medication and my cure," Broughton said. "This book gives me the answers I need. I know I am where I am today by reading and following the lessons in The Bible."
According to the 2012 Kids Count Data Book, 73 percent of West Virginia's fourth-graders are not proficient in reading. Test results reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress in 2011 reveal that West Virginia eighth grade reading test scores are below those of students in 46 other states. Furthermore, the gap between eighth grade girls and boys is 13 points, the third largest gender gap for reading scores in the nation.
The report reveals that students are losing ground as they continue through school.
In one school district, 41.5 percent of the students scored at or above mastery in fourth grade but only 15.8 percent of the 11th graders scored at the same proficiency level.
Read Aloud is offered in many county schools in West Virginia, and strives to inspire new readers. Additional information about Read Aloud is available by calling 304-345-5212.