I love to read. Apparently I’ve always loved reading. My mother tells the story of when I just about ready to go to school. She told me that one of the perks of going to school was that I would learn to read. When I returned home from school the first day, I said to her, as a five year would “Well Mommy I haven’t learned to read yet.” She responds, “Well you gotta keep going to school so you’ll learn to read.” So she knocked out two birds with one stone: keep going to school so you’ll be able to read. And I kept going to school and learned to read. And I’m a voracious reader, often reading two and three books at the same time. If I’ve found a series or author that I enjoy reading, I must read everything in the series or by the author.
So what other way to share my love of reading than to read to a student, in hopes of instilling the same love of reading that I have. When the opportunity presented itself, I decided to sign up to be a reading mentor at a public school near my place of employment with Everybody Wins, a non-profit organization that promotes children’s literacy by pairing students with reading mentors. I read a book every Tuesday to a first grader, Dylan (not his real name since he’s a minor), at lunch. The program suggests that we allow the student to select a book that we’ll read together. This is my third week reading with Dylan. So far, we’ve read 3 books: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (which I didn’t know was a book), Haunted castle on Hallows Eve, and Friends forever .
For this program, each week I board a shuttle bus to the school, provided by my agency, along with the other Tuesday readers. The group heads to the school’s library/media center to wait for our students. When the children greet us, each pair selects a book to read and goes to a classroom where the student eats his/her lunch while the adult reads. There are 4 pairs of student/adults in each room.
That first week Dylan cried. I’m sure he would’ve had more fun playing outside with his friends. I spent the first few ten minutes just sitting with him and allow him sniffle a little bit, eat some of his lunch, and avoid talking to me. Once he ate his lunch, I used the questionnaire provided by the reading program to help him feel a little more comfortable with me. He definitely started to open up to me, answering the questions. Midway through the lunch hour, he was telling me about his pet fish and how he likes to play football. We spent most of that first lunch time getting to know one another. I read a short picture book
The second week, Dylan gave me a huge smile, a hug, and talked to me about his week. He spent some time with his father, who apparently always has back pains. I tried explaining to Dylan that, as parents get older, we have pains that we didn’t use to have while we were younger. I guess he understood since he didn’t say anything further on the subject. I read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett (a book I picked out while waiting for Dylan) while he ate his lunch. I thought I would enjoy the book as much as I had enjoyed the movie and I did. When Dylan finished eating, we walked back to the library to select another book to read. He selected Haunted castle on Hallows Eve by Mary Pope Osborne, another book from the Jack and Annie (Magic tree house) series he enjoys. Dylan always looks interested in the story, often asking for definitions of words, explaining the pictures in the books, and trying to read a few words in the books.
This week, we continued reading Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve. It’s kind of interesting Jack, Annie, and their friend Teddy is sent by Merlin to investigate a haunted castle on Halloween. We’ve read that the Raven King has stolen the Diamond of Destiny from the castle turning its inhabitants invisible because the ruling family didn’t protect the diamond as required. We learned that Annie has the power to talk to birds during her time on the Isle of Birds. I can’t wait until next time. Will the threesome find the Diamond of Destiny and defeat the evil Raven King?
This week also, each student was given a book of their choosing. Dylan chose Friends forever by Melissa Lagonegro. Since it was close to the end of our time together for this, I decided to read this book. I read it through first. Then I suggested that Dylan read the book to me. The first thing out of his mouth was “I don’t know about to read.” And I assured him that I would help him with the words he didn’t know. With that, he started reading. I was pleasantly surprised. He did very well. He knew words that I didn’t think he would know. So I have devised a new strategy for reading with Dylan. While he’s eating, about 25 minutes or so, I’ll read Haunted Castle on Hallows Eve. Once he’s finished eating, I’ll make sure to have a book for his grade level so that Dylan can read to me. I’ll read the book first and then it’ll be his turn. With encouragement and a little assistance, I believe Dylan will be a reader in time.
Thanks for reading with me — Namaste