America Reads focuses on building reading skills

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Messenger Intern

In a world of televisions, VCRs, DVD players, and endless technology, the roots of the information and entertainment superhighway seem to have been lost on the way to technological excellence.

Reading, for many, has lost its importance to video games and movies loaded with special effects.

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However, the America Reads Program is dedicated to ensuring that school aged children have all the skills that they may need to add reading to their list of entertainment options. With summer in full swing and the words "I’m bored" rolling off the tongues of youngsters more frequently, what parent wouldn’t like their child to have one more skill to occupy their time?

The Volunteers In Service Training America, or V.I.S.T.A.s, as they are more commonly known, of the America Reads Program decided that the summer would be a perfect opportunity to do a couple of fun reading programs for elementary children.

The summer program for county schools is a read-a-thon for all third graders that attend Banks, Goshen, and Pike County elementary schools.

The third graders are allowed to read any books they choose and compile a list of the books, which they have finished reading.

The child’s parent or guardian must sign the list verifying that the books have all been read. When school resumes, America Reads will hold an assembly to honor all the participants and to give out awards and prizes to the students.

Another summer reading program that America Reads will sponsor begins on June 5th at the Troy Housing Authority. This program is focusing on the residents of the housing authority and is open to children of any age.

Each week a community leader will come and read a book to the children.

The reading will be followed by a craft or activity that will coincide with the book that was featured that week.

These books will focus on many life lessons, such as kindness, sharing, and friendship, just to name a few.

The first reading at the Troy Housing Authority will feature a book, What Makes a Rainbow by Betty Ann Schwartz, that teachers the readers about color recognition and respect for nature.

The audience will be honored to have Mayor Jimmy Lunsford read this story to them.

Many other community leaders will join Mayor Lunsford in this volunteer service, including the Fire Chief.

These leaders will not only be promoting reading to the children in their audience, but they will also be providing a positive role model.

Other readers for the program will be announced at a later date.

America Reads is a program that runs throughout the year promoting reading and providing volunteers to personally tutor students in the Pike County Schools.

The goal of America Reads is to get each student of the same reading level as their grade level.

For example, third graders should be on a third grade reading level.

The V.I.S.T.A, Lauren Green, and V.I.S.T.A. leader, Alicia Holley, are the coordinators for the America Reads Program in Pike County.

These two are dedicating to finding and placing volunteers that meet the criteria necessary to be involved in America Reads.

The criteria includes being a positive role model, dependable in attendance of the tutoring sessions, and skilled in reading.

"We are always looking for new volunteers," said Green.

"This past school year we had volunteers of all different ages with all different characteristics, which is wonderful for providing role models on different levels."

According to Green, not only have the children she tutors benefited, but she has also.

She remembers the first time she walked into a classroom to tutor and saw the excited faces of the children.

"I remember one little boy that I tutored when I first began in America Reads," said Green. "He was in the third grade but was only on a first to second grade reading level.

At first he shied away from reading and always wanted to shift the subject from reading to something that he was more comfortable with.

As the weeks went on and he began to become a better reader, he did not fear the books so much and even began to enjoy them."

To volunteer for America Reads, call the Retired Senior Volunteer Program at 566-6158.