“It’s a good way to get community service for my school and help the younger kids with reading so they can be more educated for the future,” said Dela, a freshman at Millennium High School. “My favorite part is making the kids more committed (to reading).”
The month-long program gives elementary school-aged children the chance to practice their reading skills alongside high school students. On Wednesday last week, Book Buddies kicked off with six students from Millennium, fulfilling a school service requirement by volunteering for an hour to read to the children who dropped by the library.
“Our goal is for the high schoolers to establish a good rapport with parents and children and help build confidence with the child in their reading,” said Anne Turner, the program coordinator. “Even if one kid and one teen showed up (today), I would be satisfied. It teaches the teens how to give back.”
The teenagers sat at four designated Book Buddy tables in the children’s section of the library, taking turns reading to the younger children and having them read out loud.
Millennium freshman Kara Suharitdamrong read to 9-year-old Chris Listman.
“It helps them enjoy reading, and it helps me read, too,” Kara said. “I like reading to them more, but once in a while I have them read. That’s important, too.”
Beverly Burke, who attended with Chris, her grandson, said she was glad to see the opportunity made available.
“I like it,” she said. “I think it’s wonderful. Anything to get these little guys interested in reading.”
Aveon’s mother, Tanesha Brown, said she happened upon the program during their first visit to the library Wednesday.
“I just moved here,” she said. “It’s nice — my son needs a lot of help in his reading. He likes to read, but it’s a struggle. I’ll bring him here every Wednesday. Nowadays, kids need positive (role models).”
Michael Shockey, 10, was engrossed as he listened carefully to freshman Jordan Sanchez read. His stepmother, Ashley Hinman, waited nearby. She said she hoped working with the high schoolers would get her stepson interested in reading more on his own.
“It’s hard to get him to read stuff,” she said. “Usually, I have to make him. I think it might be good, someone else (reading) that’s not a mom nagging you.”
As she and Michael left the library, the 10-year-old appeared interested in what he and Jordan had read together.
“It’s nice,” Michael said. “I’d come back and work with him.”
The Book Buddy Program is free and runs from 4 to 5 p.m. Wednesdays until Oct. 10 in the children’s department of the library, 20 E. Eaton Ave.
For information: 831-4255.
n Contact Denise Ellen Rizzo at 830-4225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.