Why I Volunteer and What It Means

I volunteer to read with homeless children. Would I recommend it? Heck, yeah I would!  It is an amazing opportunity to give back to my community and also do some market research. Not to mention this sweet mobile library (in a former small school bus).

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If you have a second, educate yourself on how kids use and engage with books. Scholastic’s  Reading Reports are a great way to see how both parents and kids view books and reading. US literary and reading statistics are import to know as well.

One thing I see a lot when I volunteer is kids reading below their age level. My first volunteer session, there was a little girl who struggled with the chapter books. Now, I have been amazingly blessed with two things: a mother who made reading a priority and a higher than average reading ability. So it was difficult for me to first understand how much these children struggled.

There is one thing all everyone knows: you are less inclined to do the things that are difficult or boring. Most children are not reading on their age levels. Lexile Levels are great way to address that.

Today’s volunteer work was different. A girl (we’ll call her Jane) chose to read with me today and I was informed she couldn’t read. I have heard this before from some from some of the struggling readers, so I usually try and coax it out. However, the program leader confirmed: Jane had never been taught to read.

Jane was suppose to practice reading, but he problem is that Jane is 10 and the books she is trying to read are the earlier readers that are meant for younger children. No 10 year old wants to read a book about a dog named Spot and his red ball. In fact, Jane really wanted to read Manga.

The dilemma came in when it was time to pick books. Jane wants the Manga because she knows the stories from TV. The program director is telling her she can’t get them because she needs to learn with the younger books. And there I am, the volunteer who is there to encourage reading (not to mention the fact that I know how import it is to get kids reading what they want to read).

How do you balance these two warring wants?

Jane needs to learn to read the basic words, but she also needs to be engaged to be encouraged to continue wanting to read.

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