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Leading in Reading

university students head local literacy program

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by Lisa de Felice

A group of UW-Eau Claire students are encouraging reading to South and DeLong Middle School students through a group called Literacy Leaders.
    Literacy Leaders is comprised of five UWEC students who share a mission of getting middle school students reading, in hopes that they will go home and read with their families. The program, which recently won a 2009 Youth Leaders for Literacy Award from the National Education Association, involves UWEC students visiting the middle schoolers weekly at their schools and reading with them.

The students they are paired up to read with are 23 kids from English Language Learner classes. Most of the middle schoolers are Hmong children who need improvement in speaking English.

Lucianne Boardman, director of the Reading Partner Program and Literacy Leaders, has been working with these programs since 2001, although they have been around for about 21 years.

Boardman says the Literacy Leaders program is designed to have children practice reading in order to “build fluency and comprehension in their reading.” She adds that the children are given books to take home so that they will read to their siblings.

“The key to our program,” says Boardman, “is to just have fun with books. If they enjoy reading them, they’ll read more, and that’s important.”

The books that the middle schoolers get to keep have been donated by Borders, the Reading Partner Program funded by the school district, First Book, and The Friends of the Library.

After about a month of interactive reading, the students of South and DeLong got to enjoy a day of fun and creativity with the students of UWEC. Two other UWEC students, who are part of the reading program, attended the event as well.

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