By Gwen Sisson
Whether it was, “A Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss or “Miss Spider’s Tea Party,” Book Buddies from the Rotary Club of Louisville have a great time reading a book to local school children.
Rotarians recently hosted a reading day at Fair Elementary School, where they shared a favorite book.
Dr. Nola Bryant, director of assessment and professional development for the Louisville Municipal School District and Rotarian, said the Rotarians love to see the smiles on children faces she hopes students will see that reading is important.
“Students see that others take the time and opportunity to read to them, therefore, it must be important,” Bryant said. “Thus, they see others reading from outside of the school and their home.”
Bryant said ultimately, she wants to build life-long learners and this program is one way to expose students to adults modeling life long learning.
“Books can take you to places around the world where you may never travel,” Bryant said. “A greater impact for the students to take away is that books are fun and that students will develop a love for reading. I sincerely hope that they will pick up a book to read and share with friends just as quickly as sharing a toy.”
Bryant was one of the founders of the Rotary Book Buddy Program, which began about five years ago when she became Rotary Literacy Chair.
“I felt that Rotarians should be visible and active in the community reflecting our motto, ‘Service Above Self,’” Bryant said. “As a former director of Curriculum and Instruction for the Louisville Municipal School District, I knew that students who read well would have a greater chance of being successful in life. When I was asked to be literacy chairperson for Rotary, I thought that it was an opportunity for children to see others reading and enjoying a good book with them at various ages.”
Rotary Book Buddies have read throughout Winston County, volunteering to read to students at Grace Christian School, Winston Academy, Winston County Head Start and Louisville Municipal School District in grades Pre-K, Kindergarten and first grade. Book Buddy Readers also share a good book with students on the third Friday of each month.
Joseph McCain, Rotary Club of Louisville’s secretary, said the goal of the Rotary Book Buddies Program is to give individual students or groups of students the opportunity on a scheduled basis, to read to an adult and to listen to an adult read.
“The program provides students with support, beyond daily reading instruction, to work on increasing reading skills, fluency and comprehension,” McCain said. “Reading aloud to children encourages them to read on their own, helps them become better readers, better listeners, and better students. And, most importantly, Rotarians help children learn that reading is fun and important .”
Louisville Municipal School Superintendent Ken McMullan said reading and getting young people to understand the importance of being able to read fluently is an important mission for educators.
“When young people develop a love for reading they almost always do well in school,” McMullan said. “Seeing adults come in and read to them, reinforces the importance of reading. Also, as a Rotarian it does us a lot of good to see those young people excited to see a new face. The smiles and hugs are such great rewards for all the Rotarians who choose to take part in this activity!”
Bryant agrees that the Rotarians have as much fun as the students participating in the Rotary Book Buddies program.
“It is rewarding to see and hear the eagerness and excitement in the faces of the children,” Bryant said. “Also, it lets the volunteers know that they are making a difference in sharing something special …making a difference in a positive way is what being a Rotarian is all about.”
The Rotary Club of Louisville also raises funds every Wednesday to support literacy programs in the county, including incentive prizes for accelerated reader programs.
For more information about the Rotary Club of Louisville, contact McCain at (662) 773-6241.