I’m sure you won’t be surprised to know that I love to read – after all, I work in a library. I’ve been an avid reader for as long as I can remember.
When I think about all the childhood hours I spent with my “nose in a book” -- as my parents always said -- I remember the adventures I had with my literary friends. I went detecting with Nancy Drew. I ran away to an art museum with Claudia Kincaid in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I traveled through the universe with Meg Murry while reading A Wrinkle in Time.
Unfortunately, there are children who don’t view books as an adventure. For some children reading is hard, and they hate every minute they’re forced to do it. It always saddens me to see someone struggle to do something that gives me so much enjoyment.
So when the library offered to let employees volunteer as reading tutors, I jumped at the chance. I began volunteering at Bethel-Hanberry Elementary School in Blythewood. Eventually, I started working with the school resource teacher. We came up with the idea of having a weekly “book club.” While she teaches students to read, I teach them how fun reading can be. We don’t read textbooks. We read library books – fun library books. And then we do a fun activity. Last year, one of our books was Bolivar by Sean Rubin, a story about a dinosaur hiding in plain sight in New York City. After we finished reading the book, the students made disguises for plastic dinosaurs.
If I have a group of fifth-graders, we read The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger. At the end of the book, the kids write letters to the author. And much to their delight, Mr. Angleberger writes back.
Tutoring is very rewarding. When I walk into the classroom, the kids shout, “Mrs. Kelly is here!” Sometimes one of the kids will stop by the library to see me, including my very first student, who was with me from first grade until he graduated from elementary school. Now an eighth-grader, he wanted me to know how well he’s doing in middle school.
So why am I telling you all this? I want to encourage you to volunteer, too. It doesn’t matter if you have children in school or not. You may not feel qualified to be a reading tutor, but there are a lot of things you can do as a school volunteer. Contact your local school to find out what positions are available. You won’t regret it.