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Arkansas school literacy club motivates young readers

September 17, 2018

JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Valley View Junior High School students are learning to lead — by the book.

Student volunteers read children’s books to the elementary school students to excite and motivate the younger students about reading.

The volunteers are a part of a literacy club called “Readers are Leaders.” The club recently went to the elementary school to celebrate International Literacy Day, the Jonesboro Sun reported.

Hannah Lewis, who is a ninth-grade student at the junior High school, is a member of the club.

“I’ve always loved reading,” she said. “So of course I would read to the kids.”

Hannah read the book “My Name is Sangoel” to the second-grade students in Amy McPike’s class.

“I hadn’t read it before,” she said. “I liked it.”

The other books the club read to the elementary school were “Not Norman,” and “The Bear Ate Your Sandwich.” Pre-K was also included in the celebration. Some junior high students read “Silly Sally,” to the pre-K classrooms.

This is Hannah’s third year being part of the club. She has been in it since she was in seventh grade.

Hannah said being a part of the club and reading to the students makes her feel like she has done something good.

“I get to tell them a story and all kids love stories,” she said.

Throughout her time with the club, Hannah has made an impression on Kristin Mink, who is the library media specialist at the junior high school.

Mink said she can always count on Hannah to do a good job.

“She is responsible,” she said. “She does a good job and is very sweet to the kids.”

There are no requirements to be a part of the club, which reads to the elementary school students about once a month. The student just has to sign up, and then fill out a survey to see what the students like to read.

“Desire to love reading and share with other kids is the only qualification,” said Amy Simpson, who is the elementary school’s library media specialist.

McPike, who is in her first year teaching at Valley View, sees the benefit of the club reading to the elementary students.

“I think it’s wonderful,” McPike said. “It’s beneficial for younger kids to see older kids read. They want to be like the older kids.”

She said allowing the junior high school students come to campus to read gives the younger students insight into their future.

“The mentoring by older kids will prepare them for what they need to do as they get older,” McPike said.

Simpson said she thought any and all exposure to reading helps students increase their literacy abilities.

“Anytime you get kids reading, you increase their abilities on a test,” she said.

In addition to letting the junior high take about 30 minutes to read to the elementary school students, the school has 30 minutes per week dedicated to every classroom to spend in the library.

Simpson said the school will take advantage of any opportunity the school can get kids reading.

She said the club helps because kids listen to their peers.

“It is part of a combo of a great literacy program here in the district,” Simpson said.

Mink said the club helping to motivate the elementary school students is beneficial for both groups.

“We want to show them older kids love reading and we want them to influence the younger kids in a positive way,” she said.

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Information from: The Jonesboro Sun, http://www.jonesborosun.com

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