I started my fifth year with Reading Pals, a volunteer organization that matches adults to young readers needing some assistance. We spend an hour a reading books together, and it's one of the highlights of my week.
My pal this year is a young man in the 3rd Grade, and Jackson (not his real name) is already a veteran of the program, being matched with a pal last year as well. I usually have little girls as my Reading Pal, so it'll be fun and different having a boy. I try not to be stereotypical when it comes to gender roles, but having two sons, four brothers, and a husband, I know how most eight-year-old boys think. I anticipate more fart jokes in my future.
I also spent a few minutes with my Reading Pal from two years ago, who's now a poised young lady almost ready for middle school. We talked a bit about books she read this summer, and she asked if I would pass along my Smithsonian Magazines to her. I used to give her my copies each month and I'm pleased as punch that she wants to continue receiving them. Periodicals are a great way to keep kids interested in reading since they feature lush photography and shorter articles.
It's not always easy to break up my Wednesday to run across town to the school where I volunteer. Sometimes the kids would rather be out on the playground than hanging with some old lady. Sometimes I'd rather be on the playground than hanging out with a kid with attitude. But at the end of the day, if they close the book with satisfaction and say, "I liked that story!", it's all worth it.
After all, how will I get my next generation of readers if I don't prime the pump now and then?