Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Joy of Reading (and Teaching)

I participate in a program called Reading Pals where we tutor youngsters in reading. It's a Florida initiative funded by a couple who want to ensure that children are at their proper reading level by third grade, and volunteers give one hour a week working with a youngster identified as being at-risk.

The young lady who is my Reading Pal is a delightful child, and quite bright. Each session reminds me of how much I loved introducing my boys to books, and now I get to do it all over again. Yesterday we were reading about dogs and it was her turn to read the book to me. All was going swimmingly until we reached a  page on Guide Dogs.

"I can't read that," she said flatly, "that's a bad word."

I looked at the word in question and understood her dilemma.

"Try sounding it out. It's not what you think it is."

"Uh uh, I'm not reading that. It's a bad word and I'm not supposed to say it."

I really couldn't argue with her logic, not if I wanted to get through our hour session, so I said I'd read that sentence for her and explain the word, assistance.

The funny thing was, I can remember a similar situation from my youth when I was the same age she was, seven years old. There was an illustration in the book and I couldn't figure out what it was, so I asked my mother. She looked at it and said a word (I thought) that would have gotten my mouth washed out with soap, and I told her it was a very bad word.

The word was knickers (American usage) and after some confusion she clarified it for me.  I can still see the old fashioned primer I learned from, which had illustrations of boys from the early 20th c. wearing short pants that buttoned at the knee.

When I heard about Reading Pals I knew it was the perfect volunteer opportunity for me. What's your favorite volunteer activity?

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