Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Give it back

After last night, I thought I would have the perfect post for today. Once a month I volunteer and read to children in a homeless shelter. The mission isn't to teach kids how to read, but rather to allow books to become a part of their everyday lives. Especially in the economy right now, their parents are just trying to get by, and although it is not intentional, tucking their kids into bed and reading them a bedtime story might not be on the top of their to-do list.

Through this program the kids just get the chance to be around books. Some kids like to have us read to them, others are eager to read for us. Again, the point isnt to teach reading, but try to instill an appreciation for books. If a kid doesn't want to finish reading a certain book, you can put it away and try one that they will actually enjoy - its about cultivating a love for reading, not having it be a chore. At the end of each session the kids do a little activity or craft based on the books or "theme" of the evening and get a book to take with them.

Last night, the kids did an art project for an upcoming event, so we didnt have the chance to read to the kids. Unfortunately I wont be heading back for another month, but I can't wait to get back in there and read. Sometimes the kids can be a little handful, requiring discipline from the volunteers. This happened last night, and really stressed me out - I'm not there to discipline them (and to tell the truth, I really don't know how. My meager "shh be quiets" dont really get me too far). Despite last night, I usually leave feeling happy to have hopefully instilled an appreciation for books that will stay with them. I was lucky as a child and can still to this day vividly remember telling my kindergarten teacher "how much I looove to read...reading is so fun!" (dork). Maybe some of that can rub off on these kids :)

(There are tons of stats on the benefits of reading to children, but I'm too exhausted to search for them now. More to come on this...)

Do you participate in any cool reading volunteer opportunities?

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